SRC verdict is not about Najib. It's about Malaysia
By Mariam Mokhtar
"When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter." An ancient Chinese proverb.
Whatever the political analysts, the experts, the coffee-shop pundits and warong gossip-mongers predicted for 28 July 2020, one thing is certain, Malaysia has been set on a new trajectory.
With Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali's ruling, we accomplished three things:
1. Malaysia can once again hold its head up high in the eyes of the world. We live by the rule of law and not by the three K's (KKK) (Kleptokrasi. Kronisme. Korupsi).
2. Our faith in the judiciary has been restored.
3. There is hope for a better Malaysia. The message is "Crime does not pay".
The outcome of the trial was a monumental fight for the very future of Malaysia and for the soul of the nation.
On 28 July, Malaysians half expected disgraced Najib Abdul Razak to be acquitted in the SRC International criminal trial, as they were not convinced Najib would be charged. The nation was on its knees again after the coronavirus pandemic and the change of government in the Sheraton coup.
When the High Court found Najib guilty of one charge of abuse of power, three counts of criminal breach of trust offenses, and three counts of money laundering offenses, many Malaysians felt a glimmer of hope for the nation. Najib has been convicted on seven counts, will be imprisoned for 12 years, and fined RM210 million.
Who could blame the rakyat? Najib's trial was progressing slowly with several delays, the discount on his bail, and his failure to respect the court (falling asleep, wandering off during the trial, and arriving late).
The rakyat was also disappointed, when a few weeks earlier, the new Attorney-General awarded a Discharge Not Amounting to an Acquittal (DNAA) to Najib's stepson, Riza Aziz, and acquitted the former Sabah Chief minister, Musa Aman. Malaysians were not hopeful of a conviction, despite the overwhelming evidence and witness accounts.
It was a choice between one government by the rule of law, or of a nation which, under successive prime ministers, especially under Najib, was defined the three K's (KKK).
In a speech from the dock, Najib claimed that during his tenure, he had ensured a fairer, gentler society and Malaysia prospered and enjoyed great economic growth.
In truth, he and his co-conspirators had left the nation crippled with debt, rising cost of living, crumbling public services, endemic racism and rising intolerance and extremism, with people disappearing, high levels of crime, human trafficking and an explosion of unregistered migrant workers. GE-14 stopped us from sleepwalking into a worse disaster.
Many thousands of Malaysians who suffered under Najib and would have liked to observe his reaction to the verdict, respected the social distancing in the coronavirus pandemic. They stayed away.
What a pity that Najib's (paid) supporters were selfish and unconcerned about maintaining public health. Their failure to socially distance and take precautions mortified the Director-General of Health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, whose teamwork and directives, have successfully contained the coronavirus pandemic.
People say that the reaction of the Malays is crucial. Najib's supporters are mostly Malay. A study of their responses is an insight into how some Malays view power, corruption and religion.
Were they not concerned by Najib's abuse of power? Were they not worried about the corruption which has afflicted most of the senior politicians in Umno-Baru/PAS? Whole institutions are affected. If the Malays are not at all perturbed by corruption, something is seriously wrong. Many senior Umno-Baru politicians are awaiting trial for corruption, CBT and money-laundering.
Which Umno-Baru leader will help to re-educate the Malays? One person I spoke to said, "I am aware that corruption is wrong, but it is better that a Malay gets to enjoy the proceeds of corruption, rather than a non-Malay. I would rather have a kleptocratic Malay, than an honest Chinese."
Don't the Malays see the abuse of Islam by corrupt politicians? The trips to Mecca to prove their innocence in the eyes of God, the sumpah laknat in the mosque and swearing on the Koran are meant to dupe the ignorant Malays. Which leader will address these abuses of religion?
Today's verdict is not about Najib. It is about the rakyat. Judge Mohd Nazlan quashed our previous perception that there is one law for the elites, and another for us.
Will Malays rise up to defend Najib? They won't. There are many Malays/Muslims who are not supporters of Umno-Baru or PAS. Many keep quiet because religion has been used to silence them and make them submissive. Today's verdict will give them a boost and help to free the shackled Malay mind.
Greed and abuse of power enabled Najib to destroy the legacy of his father. The son of Razak is nothing more than a common thief.
Judge Mohd Nazlan did the nation a favor. With Najib gone and his powers greatly reduced, the core of the KKK is gone.
Umno-Baru is fractured and the remaining parties will capitalize on the opportunities available.
In 2018. we did not think we would bring Najib down; but we did. In 2020, we did not think he would be convicted; but he is heading for prison.
The conviction has changed the attitude of Malaysians. The nation can now move forward.
Justice Mohd Nazlan's courage in delivering the verdict and sentencing Najib has restored our faith in the system. There is renewed hope for Malaysia.
1. MalaysiaKini: Najib sentenced to 12-year concurrent prison term, RM210m fine
2. MalaysiaKini: SOPs disregarded: Health DG 'saddened' by lack of self-control at court complex
3. MalaysiaKini: I ensured fairer, gentler society – Najib's speech from the dock
(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)