The devil and the deep blue sea

The 50% reduction of former PM Najib Razak’s 12-year jail term is a decision which doesn’t seem to please any of the political parties. The Umno party, is furious that the former prime minister and party president did not get a royal pardon.


File photo of Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. PHOTO: THE STAR

February 8, 2024

KUALA LUMPUR – THE 50% reduction of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 12-year jail term is a decision which doesn’t please the devil or the deep blue sea.

I will let you decide who the devil and the deep blue sea are. Very likely, the who depends on which political party you support.

The Umno crowd, especially those who support Bossku (Najib’s moniker), is furious that the former prime minister and party president did not get a royal pardon.

The phrase the pissed-off supporters are using is “kena kencing,” which is the direct translation to English to be peed upon. The meaning is to be misled.

The anger of Umno – specifically leaders and members who care about Najib – is best represented by the viral Facebook post of Umno Youth chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh. “We were played. Don’t think we don’t know what happened. The time has come,” he said in a cryptic post on Facebook.

When contacted by the media, Dr Akmal, who is Merlimau assemblyman, said only certain people would know what he referred to.

Let me hazard a guess. The Umno Youth chief referred to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s government. It is a government that Umno props up to be in power. And Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is a Deputy Prime Minister.

After the Federal Territories Pardons Board announced on Friday that it had commuted Najib’s jail term, his former aide Isham Jalil asked if Umno would still believe the government could help the party.

“They are liars, but there are still quarters who believed the government and hoped the government could help the party. Look at what has happened?” said the former Umno Supreme Council member who was sacked from the party.

The Najib loyalist and Ahmad Zahid critic asked if his former party would still support the prime minister, DAP and Umno president. “Continue your support if you want to be lied to,” he said in a Facebook post.

The big political question is what Umno will do.

Will those angry with the decision move to support Perikatan Nasional, which, in the first place, was the party that was determined to jail Najib, Ahmad Zahid and other Umno leaders?

Can the pro-Najib faction in the party force the president to push for a full pardon for Bossku? For some, it is as possible as Ahmad Zahid’s DNAA (discharge not amounting to an acquittal).

On Sept 4, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur granted the Umno president a DNAA for 47 charges related to criminal breach of trust, corruption and money laundering involving Yayasan Akalbudi funds after the prosecution informed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers wanted to halt the proceedings against Ahmad Zahid to scrutinise new evidence.

While the Umno crowd was unhappy that the “pardon” was not a full pardon, the other side was angry with the reduction of Najib’s sentence.

The other side is the Pakatan Harapan crowd. Those who voted out Umno because Pakatan leaders told them that they wanted to be in power so that they could put kleptocrats in jail.

I give them a “D-” on this.

In the Pakatan’s first time in power in 2018, when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister, Anwar received a full pardon. The Mahathir government charged Umno leaders, including Najib and Ahmad Zahid, with corruption. At that time, Lim Guan Eng, who was then DAP secretary-general and finance minister, was also acquitted of corruption charges.

In Pakatan’s second time in power in 2023, with Anwar as PMX (the tenth Prime Minister), most Umno leaders charged with corruption have been DNAA. The unlucky one – based on whether you are the devil or the deep blue sea – is Najib. He tak lepas (not released).

The Anwar government also charged former prime minister and Bersatu chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with corruption and former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin with non-disclosure of assets.

I see the Pakatan crowd meroyan (complaining) on social media and WhatsApp groups about the decision to reduce the sentence.

My question to them is: Will you continue to meroyan or will you organise a Bersih-like street protest against the government (they view it as the government that decided) for halving Najib’s sentence?

There is silence from the PKR, DAP and Amanah politicians who noisily pledged for years to put Najib and Ahmad Zahid in jail.

Privately, they might be unhappy. But unlike the years when they were in opposition, in which they were vocal against kleptocracy, they are as silent as a fat lamb.

Going viral is an X (formerly Twitter) post by Ramkarpal Singh, who was DAP’s deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (law and institutional reforms) and the son of the party’s moral conscience, the late Karpal Singh.

“How can be this justified?” he posted and tagged a news report with the headline “It’s confirmed: Najib’s 12-year-jail term halved to 6”.

Dinesh Nair, who describes himself as a technologist, investor and instigator on X, replied: “Bro, like this. You pick up phone, then you call DAP switchboard to connect you to Anwar. Then you ask him. Don’t ask on X.”

I am surprised that the Pakatan crowd are upset that Najib’s jail term was commuted. Didn’t they see this coming when Ahmad Zahid’s 47 charges were DNAA?

Let’s see what the devil and the deep blue sea will do next.

Knowing that Malaysians mudah lupa (easy to forget), the Najib non-full pardon or half-pardon (depending on how you want to see it), will be forgotten after a week. The devil and the deep blue sea will forget that they kena kencing.

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