On July 30, the Kuala Lumpur High Court found the disgraced Malaysian ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of all seven criminal charges of money laundering, criminal breach of trust, and abuse of power – and sentenced him to a total of 72 years in prison to run concurrently (effectively, 12 years) and a fine of RM210m.
According to a recent Merdeka Center poll, a large majority of Malaysians, including many of his supporters, think Najib is guilty: 61 percent of 3,514 respondents from all 14 Malaysian states – a highly statistically representative sample – agreed with the High Court he is guilty of his crimes. Only 18 percent felt otherwise.
Although Najib pathetically claimed in court he was “unaware” of the source of the funds that popped up in his personal bank account, Justice Mohd Nazlan Ghazali did the right thing and convicted him. In an 801-page grounds of judgment, the judge told Najib his case was the “worst” kind of abuse of power ever seen in Malaysia and the former Prime Minister had betrayed the public trust.
Even Najib’s cringe-worthy sumpah laknat (swearing under pain of divine retribution) performance in court, uncomfortable-looking motorbike rides, and goofy “fairer and gentler society” speech couldn’t persuade the majority of Malays he was not guilty: about six in 10 Malays polled agreed Najib was guilty of his crimes. Even the UMNO-backed government coalition published an official statement supporting the High Court’s sentence.
In the end, Najib was the boss of nothing. In contrast to the weak “bossku” brand image he tried to manufacture, he is now not only a clown but also a convicted felon.
Najib should be treated as an outcast not because he was undoubtedly Malaysia’s worst prime minister or because world leaders appeared to reject him repeatedly on the global stage, but because he caused the suffering of millions of innocent Malaysians and degraded Malaysia in the eyes of the world. Still, as Justice Nazlan noted, Najib has shown no remorse for what he has done. Despite the burdensome weight of fiscal evidence, he still denies he stole billions from the people of Malaysia.
Najib still cannot accept reality. As one of the world’s most historically unpopular heads of state, Najib’s personality failings are so blatant and obvious. But tragically, not a single person in his life seems to care about him enough to try to help him accept his guilt.
Najib’s permanent legacy is weakness, he has been a failure and has actively undermined Malaysia’s integrity. He is an awful role model for anyone, and the perfect example of a know-nothing fading politician.
Najib is an idiot, but on some level, he is also self-conscious, scrambling for schemes to burnish his weak image in the eyes of others. Many of Najib’s cronies who enabled his numerous scandals have not yet been convicted for their related crimes. However, we still haven’t seen them crawling out from their hiding places to defend Najib.
To paraphrase the writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Najib is a feeble boss and a fool, and the combination usually makes for great popularity in Malaysia. For now, he still walks and talks freely. However, even the embarrassing verdict-day circus of almost a thousand Najib “supporters”– who appeared to be well-fed and transported to court – backfired.
Malaysians of all political backgrounds, including the health minister and the police, universally denounced the irresponsible crowd for failing to obey social-distancing regulations and risking a Covid-19 cluster. The crowd also left the vicinity of the High Court complex littered with rubbish.
Nevertheless, Najib’s callow daughter Nooryana Najib thanked the unruly group on social media, repeatedly posting photos of them. “Our family won’t forget this,” she wrote.
By this and other poor choices, Najib and his self-serving family revealed they will remain a threat to Malaysia’s national wellbeing.
The damning Merdeka Center poll results are the equivalent of a “truth bomb”, destroying Najib’s fragile “bossku” image. He still faces a series of more criminal charges.
But the real damage is to the confidence people have in Malaysia’s reputation.
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CW is a reader of SR. This article is republished from Aliran