It is a historic day for Malaysia given the litany of truncated cases that littered the country’s courts in the past.
This includes the cases against Anwar Ibrahim which were totally different from the Najib Razak cases.
Anwar was arrested by an army of men from the police at his home, dumped in a cell and beaten, resulting in a black eye.
The PKR leader had to wait in jail for his appeals, not allowed to walk free a second.
This Malaysia is seemingly behind us, and Najib Razak, the ex-PM of Malaysia gained from the change in 2018 to the effect that he is yet to face jail term.
A DAY TO REMEMBER
Nevertheless, for a historic day, we must say it is a big u-turn Malaysia has made yesterday and July 28, whatever the verdicts in the future after appeals, will remain a day to remember.
The verdict will have waves of impacts and it touch the country in many ways, from political ramifications to legal, judiciary shocks. Malaysia is known for not keeping up with a record of good governance in terms of the judiciary. Many high profile cases were dismissed during Mahathir, Badawi, Najib time as PM.
It is only when Mahathir Muhammad came back to power under Pakatan Harapan that Malaysia saw some light in the judiciary’s tunnel say, observers. “This has resulted in Najib’s conviction today.”
Nevertheless, on the political scene, it puts Muhyiddin Yassin’s government in limbo.
Yesterday, Umno said it will make a political decision in the wake of the verdict against Najib.
Will Umno pull out from the government and cause of a collapse of the Muhyiddin regime?
This does not seem likely, even though the Umno leaders might be thinking that the PM did nothing to stop Najib’s conviction.
There could be a blame game in the government but Umno’s leader Zahid Hamidi says he respects the court’s decision which means the party may not take such a drastic action but may put more pressure on Muhyiddin.
We must admit Najib had a very good run with ‘Bossku’ and he would surely have regained power in Umno if there was a snap poll.
With the conviction, Najib cannot be a candidate but he can campaign and he can wait for a Umno-majority government to come in power to hope for a reversal of his bad fortunes.
Thus, it is possible that Umno may push for snap polls more than ever now, since the party believe it is on a winning run.
With the division in the Pakatan Harapan coalition, and infighting over who will be PM candidate still raging, the opposition seems hopeless.
It will be for Umno to push for snap polls more than for Muhyiddin and Bersatu. The reason is the Bersatu will have to fight hard to get seats allocated to Umno and to the PAS, Umno’s partner in the ‘Muafakat Nasional’ coalition.
The Muafakat forms part of the Muhyiddin cabinet and they have a majority of seats in the government.
They may decide that snap polls is the way to go instead of waiting for the court verdicts on other Umno leaders and on the PAS altogether.
They, the Umno and the PAS, holds the key to a snap poll but Muhyiddin may have some cards down his sleeve.
PH+ or PH-?
While Najib’s political course was on a sharp rise after the 2018 debacle, it meant that he could have pushed for the toppling of Muhyiddin if he wanted to.
But Umno is weaker and is divided and not all the members are in favour of Najib as leader or even as a member.
This stopped him from attacking Muhyiddin who would have sought Pakatan’s help had he seen any move by Umno to get rid of him.
He could get sufficient support from the PH without Mahathir indeed and this could mean a return of part of the PH in power.
This eventuality has got the Umno and PAS to carefully plan their strategy in order not to upset Muhyiddin.
This has resulted in a status-quo in the Parliament for now. But Najib’s conviction may change a certain number of things, as we say above.
Najib is defiant and is not conceding defeat, and it was expected.
But this will not help him in the course of the appeals. If he continues to be defiant and rejects the verdict outright with his statements that he is ignorant and so on, the appeal judges may find it difficult to sympathise with him.
Najib may altogether choose to become a pertinent opponent to Muhyiddin, knowing the latter will not move a little finger to get him cleared of the conviction.
This will add to Muhyiddin’s woes. But this will not force him to go to polls as he has no reason to do so and risk a defeat of his party.
Political reconciliation (because now there is mistrust between Bersatu and Umno after the verdict) will be difficult in the government.
This situation may prompt Muhyiddin to negotiate with Mahathir and Anwar on a deal that may satisfy all three of them.
RETURN OF PH IN POWER?
In the wake of the complications that the verdict against Najib brings for Muhyiddin, it is clear the latter expected such challenges.
The PM did not interfere at all in the legal process that was left in his custody after he brazenly took power from Mahathir.
The process was started by Mahathir and the PH once they took power in 2018. It is a long process but Muhyiddin should be credited for seeing at least one case into completion.
This should atone Mahathir altogether, for he has no other reason now to fight Muhyiddin other than the latter did not follow his lead in the Agong’s push for a new government after he resigned in February.
Mahathir’s condition to work with Umno is that he wants to work with clean parties. The Umno, he says, is a corrupt party. If the party is clean, he may work with them.
But to clean the Umno will take a long time. Hence, Mahathir may not work with Umno yet.
But he may consider working with Muhyiddin instead if the latter were to reconsider his coalition preferences. And that would entail bringing the PH back to power, if the PKR-DAP-Amanah agrees.