I was in Perth in September and I met Greg Lopez, a research fellow at Murdoch University, who wrote a most prescient article in Forbes in August 2015 entitled “Malaysia’s Prime Minister: A Dead Man Walking?”.
Greg said the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had broken “a cardinal rule in politics” in inadvertently admitting “guilt” when the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission cleared him of any wrongdoing in accepting the infamous RM2.6 billion “political donation”.
He said Najib’s position was no longer tenable as Malaysians questioned his sincerity and trustworthiness.
This was because Najib, in response to Wall Street Journal report on July 2, 2015 that US$700 million had gone into Najib’s personal bank account, offered “a non-denial denial”, viz:
“Let me be very clear: I have never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents – whether from 1MDB, SRC International or other entities, as these companies have confirmed.”
The website Sarawak Report was blocked by the government and an arrest warrant was issue for its founder and editor, Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the The Edge Financial Daily and The Edge Weekly were suspended for a period of three months, the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin and the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail were sacked summarily and the Public Accounts Committee “neutralized”.
“After pulling off such a brazen act with a high degree of skill, the prime minister blinked.
“On August 3, 2015, the MACC announced that the $700 million channeled into Razak’s personal bank account came from donors. In doing this, Razak inadvertently confirmed the Wall Street Journal’s report and opened Pandora’s box.
“This admission of ‘guilt’ has taken the toxicity of the prime minister to an all-time high. But even more damaging than the legal implications of the matter (i.e. was it corrupt for Razak to solicit donations on behalf of UMNO; is it certain that the donations were for UMNO; who donated; what were the donations for; were the donations used at the 2013 general elections; did the donation break Malaysian laws; etc) is the question of trust and legitimacy.
“Malaysians will now once again question Razak’s honesty and sincerity in denying all other allegations made against him, his family and his administration. After all, if the Wall Street Journal‘s preposterous allegation is correct, could all the other preposterous allegations also be true?”
But Greg cautioned: “One should not, however, dismiss Razak outright. It goes without saying that a dead man walking can be very unpredictable and dangerous.”
As events proved, the “dead man” could walk for almost three years, and nearly continued walking for more years, as no one, including Najib himself, had expected UMNO and Barisan Nasional to be defeated in the 14th General Elections which was held in the most uneven electoral playing field in the nation’s history in favour of UMNO/BN.
In fact, Najib was expecting a great victory even winning back the parliamentary two-thirds majority which UMNO/BN lost ten years ago in the 12GE in 2008.
I had not expected Pakatan Harapan to win the 14GE and form the Federal Government on May 9, 2018 and Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had told me that he had not expected it either.
The “dead man”, however, is still walking. He has said he has no intention to return as prime minister or the president of UMNO and BN, saying he is being vocal to fulfil his duties as an elected representative.
He said in his Facebook:”“My wish is only to give my views and ideas to strengthen Umno, improve the well-being of the people and the economy.
He said: “I can contribute towards these goals, especially in the face of lies and misinformation.
“I hope all parties will give me space to do this as it is my contribution to the people, my party and country.”
For a start, let Najib explain in Parliament in the 2019 budget debate next week why he betrayed UMNO, BN and Malaysia as he did nothing for over three years to purge Malaysia of the infamy of a global kleptocracy as a result of the 1MDB scandal despite US Attorney-General’s condemnation of “kleptocracy at its worst”?
Secondly, let him tell Malaysians what has happened to the US$23.7 million 22-carat pink diamond necklace which Jho Low had paid as a gift for his wife Rosmah Mansor as well as the two subjects which he had lied in his aborted interview with Al Jazeera – the RM2.6 billion donation in his personal banking account and his stepson Riza Aziz’s film production company Red Granite Pictures and its films like The Wolf of Wall Street.