The verdict that will move the needle(s)

The verdict that will move the needle(s)

THERE are two forms of guilt. One in the court of law. The other in the court of public opinion. Granted the guilty verdict of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, over his SRC case, the Court of Final Appeals, the highest judiciary in Malaysia, what has been proven in two prior convictions between 2020-2021, has finally come to a close. Najib, who has been trying to defer his conviction since the day he lost the reins of office as the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia on May 9, 2018, justice has finally been served.

That being said, “Desire, desires, desires.” To the degree Najib longs to return to power to liberate himself from the 12 year sentence and fines of RM210 million, on one case, with the other four pending, that is not counting the wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who would be facing the music next month, the fight to end corruption, a crime that can bring down the entire country, not unlike what was witnessed in Sri Lanka, the court of public opinion must know that those who are found guilty in dabbling in corruption, will undoubtedly spend the remains of their ill-gotten wealth, to the tune of billions of US dollars, that have been sequestered away from the public eye, will continue to conduct a sustained campaign of stealth and public relations exercise to maintain their innocence.

This is why the scholarship of Professor Muhammad Kamal Hassan, who has written factually on corruption and hypocrisy, has hit the head on the proverbial blue eye. That those who are in the thick of corruption, in the case of grand larceny which is the gravity of Najib’s crime, will continue to claim to be a victim of some kind of political persecution. To the degree, there are Malaysians and non-Malaysians, who fall for the bait of the likes of Najib and those to follow, that they were not responsible for the crimes with which they have been charged with, than this long drawn out of court room drama would not have given Malaysia a clean slate to begin anew.

The wheels of justice must not only work but be seen to work. Only then will the endemic culture of corruption in Malaysia, that has led to cabal after cabal of special interest, cartel after cartel of special interest, that has penetrated the government and bureaucracy of the country since its independence from the clutches of colonial powers, first by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch, and finally by the British only to end with creation of Malaya in 1957, finally Malaysia in 1963, will restore the true meaning of freedom and independence. That all conscientious Malaysians will aspire to live up to the highest standards of a country based on the rule of law.

The fact that Najib was willing to take the oath (Sumpah Laknat), of all places in the mosque, just mere days before his guilty verdict was handed down, was a testament to the extent that he and his henchmen in and outside of Umno were willing to go to abuse the tenet of Islamic laws. In Islamic jurisprudence there are no precedents where a person could take an oath to disclaim one’s guilt. This is why in Islamic Law, all due diligence must be performed to ensure that the person is not wrongly accused of “fitnah” or malicious libel.

In order to retain his family’s seat of power in Pahang, consequently, as the Member of Parliament of Pekan, Najib Razak has long begun to hone his son, to succeed him in the event he is stripped of all eligibility. This again is an attempt to retain his grip in the establishment, no matter how tenuous it can be, to potentially use his son’s potential position in the parliamentary system to make various tactical manoeuvres that can cleanse his guilt, and soon that of others who had been associated, to stay within an earshot of getting a Royal Pardon one day.

The Royal institutions of Malaysia are the “guardians” of the sanctity of Islam to say the least. Granted that Najib and Umno are not beneath the odium of using God neither is he baleful enough to manipulate all levers of power to absolve himself. Thus the Royal institutions of Malaysia, including the army and police, not excluding the Islamic institutions that come under the chain of command of His Majesty YDPA and the respective nine Sultans in Malaysia, should be forewarned of the upcoming shenanigans of Umno, the political party that he is associated with.

Therein comes again the importance of the court of public opinion both in Malaysia and without. No one, especially any permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, least of all the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of the latter seeks to ensure the centrality of ASEAN in the East Asian Region, should be manipulated by Najib or his hired guns to disabuse anyone into believing that Najib is not as guilty as sin. One must bear in mind that Najib Razak indeed his wife Rosmah Mansor and others of the likes have been given the fullest leeway since the very days when cases after cases of breach of trust have been buried under, with some witnesses still at large, starting from Najib’s tenure as the Prime Minister of Malaysia in 2013.

As things stand, Najib Razak should not be spared of the derision that comes with a guilty verdict too. Corruption is indeed the cancer of the nation, a remark oft quoted by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, based on the observation of his former mentor Professor Syed Hussin Alatas of University of Malaya. If anything, all students and civil servants in Malaysia should be warned of the heinous crime of corruption and their grave consequences in this temporal world and the eternal hereafter. Corruption is not something to be fiddled with. They can consume the whole nation and the whole world. Malaysians who fought for reforms, especially the likes of Pakatan Harapan, has reason to rejoice. But a wounded animal is the most dangerous when he is cornered. Whether Najib and his collaborators will all be in Kajang Prison of Malaysia, the key is that the likes of them have tasted power for some 61 years prior to their fall. They will find a way to strike back in the years to come.

The style of their politics will not favour reforms as advocated by Pakatan Harapan. Rather, they will adopt a heinous and adversarial style of politics and electioneering to defend themselves — even when they are clearly in break of all laws and moral decency.

For now this guilty verdict is just the tip of a very large iceberg that even Titanic ship will take shorter time to sink. This is just the beginning as the fight against corruption is a very long and arduous journey particularly when corruption has become a way of life here.

Dr Rais Hussin is President and CEO at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online