While he languishes in Kajang Prison, former Premier Najib Razak still has that strong voice to determine if the Unity Government can win in the six states in the coming State polls
It goes without saying, being imprisoned can sometimes turn one into a hero or a martyr. Read Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula of Brazil), and in Malaysia now, Datuk Sri Najib Razak. Even Donald Trump of the United States of America may win the US Presidency again, but this time possibly in prison if he loses in court.
Whether you love him or hate him, former Premier Najib, fondly referred to as Bossku — now imprisoned for 12 years in Kajang — still holds the cards among the Malays (now non-Malays too) on how the votes should be swung.
This is not because he has ever told the people whom to vote for, and even if he wants to, from where he is now, he has no access to such means of propagating his choice. Except perhaps, through his family members and some politicians who are granted permission to visit him. But for those who know him well, he does not push his choice onto anyone, even to his family members, except perhaps to give advisory based on his past experience.
Najib, Malaysia’s sixth Prime Minister was sentenced to prison on 23 Aug 2022 for his alleged involvement in the 1MDB-related RM42 million SRC International case. Despite having exhausted his various appeal platforms, the last being the Judicial Review held in February where the ‘unprecedented’ verdict was passed on 31 Mar this year, many of his supporters are convinced that the judgement on him was politically-motivated.
The Najib Spirit
During the Umno General Assembly (PAU) which was held between 7 and 10 Jun at the World Trade Centre (WTC) here, former Umno President Najib may not have a physical presence there, but for sure, during the four-day session, his spirit lives on.
Importantly, the issues surrounding him prevails – regarding his incarceration, his potential release, his pardon, the RCI on Tommy Thomas’ book and allegations that come with it, and the investigation report on conflicted Judge Datuk Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, among others.
Prior to this, many of Umno and Bossku supporters were at a loss and squabbling among themselves on whether Umno was really doing its part to ensure that Najib would be released from prison soon. There were a lot of blame-gaming, accusations were being thrown about, friends turned into foes on social media and the Umno leaders were being pushed into the corner for observing their gentlemen silence.
It was a good move that Umno President and Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took the opportunity to make a dedication to Najib in his speech. This was followed by other Umno leaders, most times bringing tears to the eyes of the delegates and observers who were present, whether physically or online.
As for Najib’s children, specifically Datuk Mohd Nizar (Nizar), Nooryana Najwa (Yana) and Mohd Nazifuddin (Nazif), who are now holding various positions in the Umno hierarchy at national and state levels, they took the PAU platform to encourage the 3.5 million Umno members to continue with the spirit set by their father, ie for Umno to be strong despite the adversities they are facing and to work for the people as what their father had always propagated.
Nizar played a major role in encouraging the ground swell of ‘Bebaskan Bossku’ (Release Bossku) while Yana surprised everyone with a heartfelt speech about the struggle of Umno, the ‘rakyat’ (public) and how people-centric community programmes can relieve the burden of the people, bringing tears to everyone’s eyes as it reminded them of Najib’s inclusive people-centric policies during his nine years as Prime Minister.
Two Elephants In The Room
As mentioned earlier, Umno has been plagued by a number of adversities ever since they lost power in 2018 after the 14th General Election.
For now, there are two elephants in the room: 1. Najib’s release while awaiting retrial or the much-awaited Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI); 2. Umno’s position in the Unity Government where it has a working relationship with long-time nemesis, Democratic Action Party (DAP).
Najib’s release has been part of parcel of the daily offerings on social, digital and mainstream media for the past year. Nevertheless, it took momentum when Opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) decided to use Najib as their campaign ploy to get the support from Bossku supporters with promises that they will ensure that Najib will be released if they win the forthcoming polls in six states (PRN 2023). It is such an irony as PN, that was once the gov’t prior to GE15, did nothing to ensure that Najib received a fair trial or even offer any form of support for the embattled former premier.
As for the other elephant, suffice to say that the Unity Government is in a bind.
On one hand, Pakatan Harapan (PH) with its leader Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim as PM has DAP in is coalition, is however keen to proceed with their relationship with Barisan Nasional (BN), of which Umno is the biggest component party in the coalition. DAP is not an easy partner for BN. The latter has the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) as coalition partners. Now that DAP, which has 40 Parliament seats comprising mostly Chinese and Indian MPs, is in the picture, the relevance of MCA and MIC (2 and 1 parliament seats respectively), is being questioned. On the other side of the coin, both these BN parties are frustrated at what they deem as being ‘sidelined’ by their Umno brothers.
In addition to that, DAP has never made an apology for its nasty remarks made towards Umno/BN during the past few decades. This is especially glaring, because the first thing they did when the Unity Gov’t was formed, was apologised to Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), another partner in the said gov’t. Suffice to say that such selective grovelling does not bode well for Umno members’ acceptance of DAP, and this trust deficit may affect the Unity Govt’s performance in PRN 2023, unless something is done prior to election day. Perhaps if there are attempts to provide Najib with the justice he so deserves, it is best that DAP supports this move instead of taking a hardline stance against it as they have been known to do all this while.
Interesting to note too is that a number of Umno and PKR skeptics have insinuated that Zahid and Anwar would be insecure about their respective positions as they are aware of Najib’s popularity with the people, especially when it comes to his economic prowess, noted during his tenure as PM where the country stood tall and proud, edging out some of its neighbours when it comes fiscal performances.
Hopefully, these two leaders are matured enough to note that working towards Najib’s release will only score them more brownie points than otherwise, especially if they give him a mentoring role and propel the country to greater heights as he has been known to do. Hopefully the gesture to place non-Umno leader Anwar to sit on stage during the Assembly, despite protests of a few observers, may bear fruit and persuade the PM to ensure that justice will prevail for his predecessor Najib.
Perhaps too, they will take note of the fact that once released, Najib may just be too busy doing his PhD in Economics which he is currently doing in prison without all the online facilities granted to today’s students, instead of trying to better them at the popularity polls.
After all, he is probably the only PhD student who will be dissecting his own economic policies, since there has been no better performance for the country than the truly successful Najibnomics.
So folks, there is no two-way about it, Najib Razak is truly a force to be reckoned with, and the longer he remains in prison, the greater the loss for the country. – Mediahit