Will the next two months be as disastrous for Malaysia as the past two months?
Before the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched an offensive against his enemies inside and outside of UMNO two months ago, Malaysians were already quite punch-drunk with a myriad of scandals of high-level political corruption which included the two mega-scandals of 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal banking accounts, the blocking of the whistleblower website Sarawak Report, a notice to Interpol for the arrest of editor of Sarawak Report, Claire Rewcastle Brown, the three-month suspension of the Edge publications, and a slew of police actions under Section 124 of Penal Code against purported international plotters to “topple” Najib as Prime Minister.
On 28th July, Najib launched a multi-pronged offensives which included:
• abrupt sacking of his Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Minister for Regional Development, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal for continuing to raise questions about the 1MDB scandal which Muhyiddin in his last speech as DPM to the Cheras UMNO Division said had ballooned from a RM42 billion to “over RM50 billion” scandal;
• the sacking of Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, with a charge sheet appearing subsequently giving support to the speculation that Gani was preparing to prosecute Najib for corruption over the 1MDB scandal when his action was pre-empted by Najib’s summary dismissal in the nick-of-time; and
• sabotage of Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigations into the 1MDB scandal by the elevation of the Chairman and three committee members as Minister and deputy ministers, causing PAC investigations into 1MDB scandal to grind to a halt for more than three months until the four vacancies are filled in the October meeting of Parliament.
Najib’s “Morning of Long Knives” led to various developments in the past two months, including:
• dissolution of the multi-agency Special Task Force investigating into 1MDB which had comprised Bank Negara Malaysia, Royal Malaysian Police, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Attorney-General’s Chambers;
• an inter and even intra-agency warfare, with the police launching arrests in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency and even internal “blood-letting” in the Police force itself;
• Najib’s failure of leadership to embrace and dialogue with the 34-hour Bersih 4 overnight rally on August 29/30 attended by hundreds of thousands of Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region, gender, age or politics with the common national cause of good governance and clean, free, fair elections which completely transcended race;
• the last-minute backing out of the Prime Minister from officiating the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC)in Putrajaya from Sept. 2-4, 2015 for fear of facing “hard questions” from 1,000 delegates from over 130 countries over the twin mega-scandals on 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal banking accounts;
• the highly racist and provocative Sept. 16 Red Shirts Perhimpunan Maruah Melayu which desecrated Malaysia Day on the 52nd anniversary of the Malaysian ideal and vision as well as Najib’s 1Malaysia Policy on the primacy of social harmony, racial peace and national unity.
• Allowing the Red Shirters to continue to create fear of racial unrest with the threat of an anti-Chinese riot in Petaling Street on 26th Sept., when there should have been quick and firm action to immediately scotch such racial threats as up to now, not a single person had been charged in court for racist incitements, threats and provocations.
As a result, the trust deficit and the crisis of confidence in the government had further worsened in the past two months, as evident by the 16% plunge in the value of the Malaysian ringgit from 3.81 to the US dollar when the Cabinet was reshuffled on July 28 to 4.40 to the greenback on Sept. 28 yesterday.
The value of the Malaysian ringgit to the US dollar fell by some 60 sen in two months since the Cabinet reshuffle, when it had taken more than a year to fall from the level of 3.20 to 3.80 to the US dollar.
Why did the ringgit depreciate and trust deficit dissipate so fast in the past two months?
Market analysts have forecast that the Malaysian ringgit will fall to 4.50 to the US greenback by the end of the year, but with the drastic slide in value of the Malaysian ringgit since yesterday, Malaysian ringgit may fall to 4.50 to the US greenback well before the end of the year.
In these two months, Malaysia has notched a new infamy – the first Asian-Pacific serving Prime Minister or President to be investigated for corruption and money-laundering by the US Department of Justice under its Kleptocrat Asset Recovery Initiative.
Will the next two months be as disastrous as the past two months?
Will Najib pull out in the last minute from officiating the Global Transformation Forum in Kuala Lumpur on 21-23 October in the same way he pulled out of the IACC in Putrajaya on Sept. 2 -4?
Will the climax of his international programme at home, the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur on November 18 -22 with Malaysia as ASEAN Chair going to be more successful than his present lackluster visit to New York and the United Nations?
But most important of all, will there be a vote of no confidence against Najib in the budget meeting of Parliament, with some UMNO/BN MPs crossing the floor of the House to join forces with the Opposition MPs?
Or will Najib, who seem so invincible and untouchable, because the support of UMNO/BN MPs have been fully locked-up, still stumble and fall because of extraneous developments not fully under his control – one indication of which is news report yesterday that “Abu Dhabi state fund Aabar Investments may refuse to invest in a RM2.5 billion rights issue by RHB Capital in a sign of disappointment among Gulf investors with economic and political instability in Malaysia”?
Will Najib’s 1MDB “empire” collapse like a house of cards?
Only time will tell.