By Mohsin Abdullah
There was much rejoicing, expressing of happiness and satisfaction when the Court of Appeal threw out Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appeal on Wednesday 8 December.
In the words of former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (and echoed by many others), the Court of Appeal has confirmed Najib as guilty of abuse of power, corruption and money laundry charges.
Some people breathed a sigh of relief when the verdict was delivered because while being hopeful they had all the while been skeptical that such a verdict would be passed.
We know why the skeptics were skeptical. No explanation needed. Agree?
On social media, the outpour of joy and happiness was, or rather is, still all too evident.
Sarcasm and humor (surely too crude to the liking of many a Najib supporter) were aplenty.
There was even a fake poster of the Sungai Buloh prison welcoming Najib, and I thought such fakeness would easily be spotted or called out, if you like. Apparently not as the prisons department had to take to social media to issue a denial.
“Fake news”, said the department’s short statement posted on Twitter and Facebook.
The fact that people, or should it be “some” people, believed or wanted to believe the fake poster is telling, I would say. And obviously people or again “some” people are not happy that the former prime minister was granted a stay of execution pending his appeal at the Federal Court.
In fact, they are not happy at the appeal itself although it is within Najib’s right in accordance with the law to have his appeal heard at the highest court of the country.
That would be his final recourse.
But Najib is not without his supporters. Take a look at the people from outstation who turned up at the court in Putrajaya although Najib was in his Pavilion apartment in the posh part of Bukit Bintang following the proceedings virtually.
And the folks who had joined in the reciting of prayers for him online the night before the Court of Appeal verdict.
They are the loyalists, people who want to believe what they want to believe. And they believe Najib’s version of events.
I do not know whether Najib believers outnumber non-believers or vice versa, but I have my own take on this, as many of you readers surely.
And I’ll leave it here without saying who I believe have the numbers.
And it is this group of supporters that Najib continues to focus on, so to speak.
Take a look at his latest salvo on Facebook. I have no intention to repeat what he is saying. And he will continue with his salvos and play victim while waiting for his Federal Court appeal.
But as I see it, he is preaching to the converts.
It is not likely he would get the extra numbers to add on to his band of supporters. Nor would he lose the numbers of his supporters to the “other side”.
It’s status quo. I could be wrong, but I could very well also be right!
When BN/Umno won last month’s Melaka state elections, some people wondered (some aloud) if that victory would pave the way for Najib to make a comeback and possibly be the country’s 10th prime minister.
Then came last Wednesday’s Court of Appeal verdict. But somehow former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad saw it right to say even with the Appeal Court’s decision, Najib “could return as prime minister as the conviction penalties has stayed for appeal”.
Mahathir appeared to be not agreeing with the stay of execution granted to Najib, saying this would allow Najib, who is Pekan MP, to still contest in GE15.
“ It will take about another year or more for the the appeal to reach Federal Court. Until then he is still a Member of Parliament and can contest in GE15,” Mahathir was quoted saying.
He went on to say, “If he wins, he will remain an MP and can become prime minister too.
“Alhamdulillah, Malaysia might create another record by appointing a convict as prime minister.”
A classic, or should I say typical Mahathir sarcasm? Perhaps. But while Najib will not lose his Member of Parliament status just yet despite the Court of Appeal verdict as he is appealing, according to the law he nevertheless cannot contest in GE15 if it is held before the Federal Court decides on his appeal.
In short, Najib cannot stand for elections without having his conviction overturned.
Mahathir, with all his stature and experience, surely know this. Yet he said what he said. Why? Could it be that he sees what we cannot see? And knows what what we don’t?
That’s Mahathir for you. But never mind that!
I’ll conclude by bringing in again Zaid Ibrahim.
Zaid said the rejoice and happiness on social media at the verdict on Najib does not mean that ministers and prime ministers from now will never abuse their powers. One swallow does not make a summer. Rightly said.
According to Zaid, the Najib case is not only an indictment against the former PM, but also an indictment against the country’s justice system and an indictment of “the kind of people we are”. This I fully agree.
“When Najib ‘instructed’ his boys in SRC to pay RM42 million into his account, that instruction would not have been carried out if our senior civil servants working with MOF and government-linked companies had integrity, and that those with depraved values were not holding high posts.
“They would have reminded the then PM that it would be wrong and criminal. They did nothing of that sort”, said Zaid.
And if I may add that as long as people who are in positions to right the wrongs they see being committed but do nothing to stop the wrongs and go on to right the wrongs, all the wrongs like abuse of power, corruption and money laundering will continue to be committed by people who claim to be leaders of the nation but are bent to do wrongs.
I am not wrong to say that, right?
(Mohsin Abdullah is a veteran journalist and now a freelancer who writes about this, that and everything else.)