A senior leader of Malaysia’s ruling party quit on Monday, the latest among several party officials to leave or be sacked after criticizing Prime Minister Najib Razak over a multi-billion dollar financial scandal involving a state-owned fund.
Recent electoral wins and a gradual recovery in the economy have allowed Najib to sack more critics and reshuffle his cabinet, bringing in loyalists ahead of general polls that may be held as early as next year.
Shafie Apdal, who as a vice-president was the fifth-most senior leader of the United Malay National Organization (UMNO), resigned two weeks after two other senior leaders were sacked by the party over their criticism of Najib’s handling of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
“Justice is not being done. There is no justice in the way UMNO is being run,” Shafie said on Monday at a rally in his home constituency of Semporna, a ruling party stronghold in the Borneo state of Sabah.
The international press has noted this, yet another senior departure from UMNO, as will financial markets and all Malaysia watchers.
A leader must rule by consent in order to rule successfully. Yet, one after another, the brightest stars, who once supported Najib, have resigned or protested and been sacked.
The ones who remain are tarnished themselves or jumped up opportunists, promoted beyond their dreams.
The Lord and Lady Macbeth of Malaysia may seek to say that this is all represents a consolidation of their power, but with every departure of respected courtiers comes a growing unease.
The other Shakespearian analogy presently wafting around KL is that there is something rotten in the State of Malaysia: a whiff of corruption, murder and madness is in the air.
Everybody knows it and it cannot end well.