By Mohsin Abdullah
Honestly I wasn’t interested when I heard Datuk Seri Nazir Razak was about to launch his book.
I learned that the book entitled “What’s in a Name” is a memoir of Nazir recounting what it was like growing up in one of the nation’s most prominent families and honoring his late father Tun Razak Hussein.
Nothing new, I told myself, as I’ve read quite a lot on the legacy of Allayarham Tun Razak before this. He was a much revered prime minister of Malaysia.
So this time, I thought I’ll skip this latest tribute albeit written by the son of great man himself. This despite an old journalist friend of mine telling me this is a must read book.
Not only did I not read the book, I did not even pay attention to the book review as well.
But I later came across online remarks by the publisher saying, “This is not just the story of Nazir’s life as one of Malaysia’s most successful businessmen (he is a well known banker, if I may add), it is also a drama of family loyalty and what happens when that loyalty comes into conflict with deeply held principles.”
That made me sit up. And not long after, I found my eyes wide opened reading excerpts of the book which have been turned into news reports mostly by online portals.
One report said amidst the over 350-page read, the book also contains details of Nazir’s relationship with his brother’s wife whom he claimed was hostile to him. The brother is of course Datuk Seri Najib Razak. And his wife, as we know, is Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
The report quoted Nazir saying in his book that he and his sister-in-law had a good start but the “warm feelings didn’t last long” and “I soon began to worry that Najib’s power was intoxicating for her.”
Nazir went on to say, “For Rosmah, life was very simple: you were either with them or against them. There was no middle ground. Criticism was tantamount to betrayal.”
He spoke of one gathering during the fasting month of Ramadan at Najib’s residence when Rosmah grabbed Najib’s hands, looked straight at Nazir and said loudly for everybody present to hear and see, “Don’t talk to him. He is working against you and trying to topple you.”
And according to Nazir, “with more than a hint of venom”, Rsomah told him, “I know what you’re up to. I have eyes. You had better watch out.”
According to another report, Rosmah had in the past warned Nazir to stop questioning her husband’s actions.
It is understood that Nazir’s “meddling” in the 1MDB scandal strained the relationship between the two brothers and hurt the feelings of their mother, the late Tun Rahah Mohamed Noah.
The book accounts Nazir’s involvement in opposing the 1MDB scandal.
Nazir wrote about the “moves” he had made with The Edge owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong to get the 1MDB case exposed.
And one of the “moves” included an “extraordinary meeting” with Tun Mahathir Mohamad in London where they told Mahathir “billions of dollars had gone missing from 1MDB”.
And when Mahathir asked why he must be the one to act upon the problem, Nazir replied, “Well, Sir, you have to do something because you made him (Najib) prime minister.”
As Nazir saw it, “The fact that 1MDB became a huge financial scam was probably the most blatant testament of a failing system.”
I think that should be enough for me to write here, although there are many more details revealed in the book. Many would have read about it. If not all, a report of two at the very least.
The revelations or exposé from the book are all damaging or damning, if you like the country’s former first couple, in particular for Najib.
What with the court charges they are still facing. Never mind the November 15 report that the prosecution would not be calling Nazir to possibly testify in the 1MDB trial involving his brother despite the revelations in his book.
To say the revelations are a big blow to the former prime minister is an understatement, especially as public perception is concerned.
By the way, in the unlikely event you missed the news last Saturday (Nov 13), Nazir and his friend Tong were conferred Darjah Panglima Setia Mahkota by Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The award carries the title “Tan Sri”.
Awards are bestowed on people for their contributions and sacrifices made to the country. Among other things, the recipients are people whom the Yang di-Pertuan Agong feels have made huge contributions to the nation and deserve to be awarded. The prime minister is also allowed to recommend his lists of recipients to be considered by the Palace.
That is the normal practice and procedure according to people familiar with investiture.
Let’s leave it there and not go into all sorts of interpretations with regard to Nazir and Tong getting their “Tan Sri” awards.
Alright, time for me to sign off and head to the bookstores. Must get that book!
(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist and now a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)