By Mariam Mokhtar | January 13, 2012
Free Malaysia Today
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was aware of the consequences of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim being jailed. With limited choices, he was forced to choose the unpalatable option of having Anwar acquitted.
In doing so, Najib’s reputation may have been enhanced, his party Umno-BN saved from the brink of annihilation at the polls and, most important of all, the creation of the powerful and feared martyr (Anwar), was neutralised.
For Anwar, acquittal meant he could concentrate on leading the opposition and making sure the government performs. Sodomy II was designed by Umno to be a distraction, for him and the rakyat. Valuable time and resources had been wasted on this sham trial which was designed to wear Anwar and the rakyat down.
Najib must think us fools to believe that Anwar’s acquittal signalled an independent judiciary. What about the many other cases which have been rigged in the past? Teoh Beng Hock, Aminulrasyid Amzah, Ahmad Sarbani, A Kugan.
Najib seems to need Anwar for political survival and may have “saved” Anwar, so that he can be used in his fight against former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Mahathir must be fuming that his long-term ambition, to be rid of Anwar, has been thwarted again.
Anwar may have been the protagonist in Act I of Sodomy II, but if he and his coalition become too complacent, Act II may blow up in their faces.
There is no reason why Umno diehards should surrender and see their ill-gotten gains, plundered during the 54 years of misrule, be destroyed by one man. They have too much to lose, not just their positions of power and wealth, but also their freedom.
If people are still celebrating the acquittal, let us not forget that the country still has to be saved and there is much work to do. Corruption, abuse of power, rocketing public spending, injustice, police brutality for the normal man in the street, have yet to be resolved.
Najib’s political expediency is apparent (he has his foreign advisers to thank for this) but people power had much to do with Najib’s decision to “advise” the judiciary to deliver Monday’s Sodomy II verdict.
Conservatives on the Umno sidelines are watching Najib’s every move. His own deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, with whom Najib shares an intense love-hate rivalry, is alleged to be “guided” by Mahathir.
Najib’s premiership has been dogged by flip-flops, empty rhetoric, meaningless soundbites and costly foreign PR campaigns. If he cannot run his own Cabinet, how can he be entrusted to run the country?
If one acquittal means an independent judiciary, then Najib’s judgment and reasoning, among other things, are poor. The one drug addict caught in the back streets of Chow Kit does not mean the police are winning the war on drugs. The small-time trader who is caught paying “extra” to have his permit approved quickly does not mean that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is doing a fantastic job.
Malaysians are aware of the breakdown of their confidence in the government, but they also have some mistrust in the opposition. No one claims to think that Anwar knows best or that the opposition is 100 percent ready and perfect.
The focus has always been to be rid of a corrupt government and to restore proper democracy to Malaysia. Our job, as the rakyat, is to keep these politicians on their toes, and kick out those who are self-serving or incompetent.
As one political observer said, “Malaysian minds are made mush by shopping malls… average quality of life is good, most basics of life being relatively affordable. Even the most enlightened, ‘liberal’ ones only complain about ‘the others’ without examining their own complicity or own unwillingness to modify their behaviour. That extends to voting for change, less so fighting for it.”
Have Malaysians forgotten that before Jan 9, the focus was on Women, Community and Family Development Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and her family’s abuse of RM250 million of taxpayers’ money?
So why is Shahrizat going on leave at this juncture? Has Najib decided that with Shahrizat “out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind”, the rakyat might forget about the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC)? Would having Shahrizat around be like waving a red rag at the public?
If Najib had any leadership qualities, he would have suspended her, instructed the MACC and police to do a thorough investigation, frozen the accounts of the NFC, arrested Shahrizat’s husband and children and placed them on bail, have their passports impounded and notified the public of developments about the NFC scandal.
There are many other, far larger corruption cases but Najib knows that if Shahrizat felt she had drawn the short straw, she would drag others down with her. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
At Umno’s last general assembly, Shahrizat faced the audience and rolled up her sleeves in a show of defiance and arrogance as if to say, “bring them on, I am spoiling for a fight”.
Today, she is in retreat and people will remember her words “I am only the wife of the project chairman” which she uttered when the NFC scandal first broke. The NFC chairman is her husband, Mohamad Salleh Ismail.
Readers may recall a few years back, when a certain woman was asked to comment on the allegation made in a statutory declaration that she had been present when the body of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu was disposed of. She declared her innocence and said, “…I’m just the wife of a politician.”