Received via Whatsapp
22 February 2019
COMMENT | Cast your mind back to this time last year when many of you were still undecided about supporting Pakatan Harapan under the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
You were preoccupied with more mundane issues, such as the rising cost of living, the economy, the lack of jobs and the increase in crime. As if these were not bad enough, there was the #UndiRosak movement, Umno-Baru wooing PAS, the national debt and religious intolerance.
Many unexplained disappearances added to the climate of fear. The arrests for sedition, the travel bans and blocked websites silenced most of us.
Najib Abdul Razak told us to tighten our belts but every other week another Birkin bag, priceless gem or luxury watch was being paraded by Rosmah Mansor. The government jet was misused by ministers’ spouses, but there was little you or I could do about it.
You were at rock bottom but with nothing more to lose, apart from your dignity, you threw your hat in with the rest of other frustrated Malaysians and gave us a Pakatan Harapan win on May 9.
Today, you are disappointed with the pace of reform. You want Najib behind bars but you ignore the fact that he has plenty of money for the best lawyers. If the government were to rush things and Najib’s legal team were to pick at the loose ends, Najib’s charges might be thrown out on a simple technicality.
Would you be happy then? Who would you blame? Yourself for your impatience? Or the government for acting without due diligence?
Today, you may despair at Mahathir’s moves to entice former Umno Baru leaders and supporters into Bersatu. But try to dwell on the pluses instead of the negatives. For one, the MACC was emasculated under Najib but is now beginning to work more effectively.
If the former government was still in power, do you think he would have allowed the changes that have been made over the past 10 months? Billions would have been lost and more political appointments would have been made and the police, the army, the judiciary, the civil service, Felda, Mara, Tabung Haji and other institutions would have continued as “normal”.
Perhaps, MAS and other once profitable companies would have been run into the ground so that a crony company could pick up the carcasses for a pittance. A fire sale? The newly-acquired purchase could then be rejuvenated with taxpayers’ money. The taxpayer would also have to fund the high commissions. We would only look on aghast.
Last week’s bombshell about misconduct in the judiciary does not surprise us. From the police to political parties, from awards to approved permits, from menteri besar to the various ministries, from the Tabung Haji to timber concessions, every institution and transaction is tainted.
None of this inspired confidence in the electorate and now Najib’s trial has been postponed. He is taking this opportunity to rebrand himself. Using social media, he advocates all those things that he should have done when he was PM.
He even dresses and acts like the Mat Rempit whose attention he used to cultivate; perhaps they formed the core of his support base.
Inner circle protection
And Najib now points out every Harapan ministerial fault. He denies that his administration had created numerous problems which have been saddled on this Harapan government, such as the wasteful police study tour to Turkey.
The previous Najib would scurry away when faced with a barrage of questions and allegations but not today’s Najib. Today, he welcomes reporters. He has made up with gusto for his previous silences with attacks on Harapan ministers.
Do not be deceived. Najib is only doing what a man who is in deep trouble would do. He has nothing to lose. He is on the offensive and there is little Harapan can do to contain him.
Najib is not a changed man so do not underestimate him. He does these things to change public perception of him. He cannot delay his trial indefinitely and so he has created a major facelift for his image.
The trick has worked and his response to his critics is to admit that he is a thief and here’s the twist – that he is only guilty of stealing the rakyat’s hearts.
A Harapan government that overreacts will only play into Najib’s hands.
More so, Harapan is kept busy with infighting, dishonest ministers who lie about their academic credentials or prattle about succession plans. They forget there is much work to be done.
Najib’s inner circle has protected him. In the past, they received his protection and patronage. People like his lawyers, his wife, his aides, some religious leaders, the former home minister, the former minister of the federal territories and the political appointees to so many institutions.
They have titles like Datin, Datuk or Tan Sri; 98 percent of them are Malay and Muslim They carried on their crimes because Najib closed both eyes to their felonies.
Today, most of them have been arrested and charged with criminal breach of trust, bribery, money laundering, stealing taxpayers’ money or abuse of power.
Najib is not a thief of hearts but he has stolen the Malays’ ability to reason.
There is no love lost between Mahathir and Najib. Najib will have his day in court but you have to be patient. In the meantime, keep on speaking your mind and pointing out the faults in Harapan.
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.