February 10, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – Whether you like it or not, every move of Najib Razak will never cease to draw the attention of Malaysians, including his rivals.
Many are just keen to know whether the former prime minister will eventually be sent to jail, or to Putrajaya. They are even keener to learn whether he will still be eligible to run in the next election, as well as what his next political moves are.
After being denied by the Chinese voters in the past two general elections, the local Chinese community wants to know whether Najib now thinks differently of the country’s Chinese language education policy, the national economy as well as Umno’s attitude towards the community.
All these make excellent topics of an exclusive cover story.
Before the Chinese New Year, Najib visited Sin Chew’s headquarters in PJ, and made the frontpage headline.
As expected, I received a number of phone calls and short messages. Among others, some offered well-intentioned advice while others were simply curious, not understanding why we had invited him, and put him on our front cover.
As a matter of fact, Najib was not the only one visiting us before CNY. We also played host to Warisan’s president Shafie Apdal.
Like Najib, Shafie’s visit was to take the opportunity to wish Chinese Malaysians a happy Chinese New Year while seizing the rare opportunity of exclusive coverage on Chinese media.
The focus of Shafie’s cover story on Sin Chew was the multiracial approach in governance he has always advocated.
When Najib’s aide called up saying Bossku, too, was keen to pay us a visit, we knew that as gracious hosts we had no reason to decline a guest, especially with the festive season just around the corner.
More importantly, Najib has always been a highly newsworthy man whose present and future are of tremendous interest to the local Chinese community. Because of that, we put his story on our front cover wholly based on its news value.
In fact, Najib did offer his explanation on the Court of Appeal’s verdict on his SRC case as well as new evidences he is prepared to produce in his final appeal to the Federal Court, during that interview. Anyway, this had been omitted from our report lest we be alleged of disrupting court proceedings. We believed that the court would be the ultimate place for Najib to seek his justice. So far, the Federal Court has yet to hear his appeal or make a final judgment.
Besides being a former prime minister, people familiar with Umno know that Najib’s clout within the party has gone down to the very base of the grassroots. Anyone keen to have a place in the party will have to seek his blessings.
In the meantime, his has successfully erected a powerful Bossku image within his party. Although some Umno leaders are well aware of Court Cluster’s lethality to party image, they nevertheless hope to build on his unassailable popularity, at least until after the Johor election.
When it comes to the real general election, there is no way Umno can evade the question whether Barisan’s PM candidate is Ismail Sabri, party president Ahmad Zahid, or the hugely popular “Bossku”? Or perhaps the party’s second-in-command Mohamad Hasan or another black horse?
Najib has never attempted to hide his intention of making a strong comeback. But as he is still in the process of appealing against his conviction in the SRC case, he will invariably have to confront tons of obstacles from within his own party if he intends to return to the core of power, either in Umno or Putrajaya.
Many are of the opinion that Najib is no more eligible to run in the next election. However, when asked about this, he said in confidence: “You’ll get the answer when the time comes.”
Many don’t actually think Najib gets to return to Putrajaya as prime minister.
His rivals will never want to see him back in the first place, including Muhyiddin Yassin whose party Bersatu is still very much a component of the current Umno-led government.
Still remember who threw Muhyiddin out of the government? These two men have not been friends for years, and this explains why Umno and Bersatu will never work together again in the next election.
It is remotely possible now for these two parties to go hand-in-hand, less so work together again. To Umno, there couldn’t have been a better time than now to uproot Bersatu. The Johor election is definitely a matter of life and death for Bersatu. Under the political reality of this country, Bersatu today is akin to Semangat 46 of yesteryear. It is a matter of time the party gets dissolved and its leaders return to Umno en masse.
The Johor election results will decide how soon GE15 will be held, and how Umno’s future leadership line-up is going to look like.
According to a source familiar with Umno politics, if the results in Johor are not totally satisfying, Umno could make Perak state election its next battleground in the run-up to the general election.
However, another source says party leadership is more inclined to get GE15 going as early as possible. As such, the March 19 Umno general assembly is anticipated to pass a motion to get Ismail’s administration to dissolve the parliament to pave way for the 15th general election.
Although the number of new COVID-19 cases is on the rise in this country, the Umno leadership still plans to dissolve the parliament in May or June so that an election can be held in July. If this is not possible, the parliament could be dissolved in July with the election slated for August. In short, they want GE15 to predate the party’s election.
We have already gone through nearly three years of political instability, and our economy cannot afford to take in any more uncertainty. We used to be the top investment destination for foreign investors in this region, but today we have been squeezed out by countries like Indonesia and Vietnam.
Malaysia urgently requires a major revamp in our economy as well as education system. We all know this, although our leaders don’t seem to know, or care.
We want a stable and forward-looking government to lead this country. We cannot afford to let the same old bunch of goons to lead us, or for the vicious fights to go on forever. The country has to move forward. We don’t want the endless political fights to sink this ship, with millions of us aboard!