Malaysiakini : This is no ordinary case - it is the first time that a former prime
minister of Malaysia has been charged. He was still a very powerful
figure within the ruling Umno although he stepped down as president of
Umno after he lost the 2018 general elections.
During the four
years since he was charged in this and other cases, Najib has been on
bail, using that time to rebuild his political image systematically
using the “Apa Malu Bosku” moniker through social and other media to not
only maintain he was innocent but to make him into a political force
Umno politicians who should know better threw their weight
behind Najib during the course of the latest appeal – a rather
unbecoming behaviour. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi called on Umno to support Najib during the “difficult” SRC appeal.
Both he and his deputy Mohamad Hasan said the decision
of the Federal Court to refuse additional evidence erodes judicial
integrity, in response to which the Bar Council issued a statement in support
of the judges. How is one to interpret such developments by the two top
officials of what was for a long time the most powerful political party
such pressures, the Federal Court made a unanimous decision and affirmed
the guilty verdict and sent Najib to jail. The five-member bench was
headed by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat. The others were Chief
Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, Federal Court
judges P Nallini, Mary Lim Thiam Suan and Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah.
doing so, the five strongly affirmed the rule of law and showed that no
matter how high an office a charged person held, the case against him
will be decided by the law - no matter the threats, pressures and noises
by others not involved in the case. For the first time in Malaysia, a
former PM was sent to jail.
When a unanimous decision is made by
reputable members of the bench and clear, written grounds for the
judgment are given, it leaves no doubt as to the guilt of the accused,
although he tried to play to the gallery by appealing to emotion, not
The impact of the Federal Court decision is far-reaching. It is a
message to others that if they are similarly charged, they can expect
justice to be meted out - no matter how high their social standing -
without fear or favour; a major deterrent to the rampant corruption at
high places which we are seeing now.
However, enforcement as in
charging the guilty still leaves a lot to be desired. If the Pakatan
Harapan government had not come to power would Najib ever have faced the
courts? Highly unlikely.
For Najib, it’s the end of the road for
now, and politically, for always. Talk of pardon is being glibly bandied
about. But pardons are a process and should only be given when there is
a gross miscarriage of justice or when the accused’s service in other
respects has been exemplary. On both counts, Najib fails miserably.
has to remember that Najib faces other charges for which trials are
already ongoing, some of them much more serious than the ones he is
facing now. He is facing four charges of abusing his position to receive
bribes of RM2.3 billion and 21 charges of laundering the same amount.
arises from the US$680 million that was moved into his accounts which
the US Department of Justice said came from funds stolen from 1MDB. Will
any sane person push for a pardon from crimes such as these where
billions were stolen from the country?
The Federal Court decision
is important because it does demonstrate unequivocally that no one is
above the law and that even those in high positions can be brought to
court and convicted for white-collar crimes.
That offers some hope
for this country of ours going forward, provided we collectively as
Malaysians, when the time comes, refuse to hand over power to the
corrupt and to those who abuse them, many of them very demonstrably so.
Federal Court decision is a burst of welcome sunshine in a place where
things have been dark for way too long. Let’s keep the light on.