NAJIB Razak, the world-famous kleptocrat, has been going into PR overdrive, apparently to prove that leaders of major powers have no qualms being seen with him despite the many ongoing probes into his involvement in 1Malaysia Development Berhad, as well as related criminal arrests and convictions beyond Malaysian borders.
Najib is pretending as if his credibility as prime minister is still intact despite sinking deeper into this 1MDB criminal quagmire, desperately trying to project innocence to Malaysians. Photo opportunities with international leaders are spun as their tacit endorsement of him heading into the 14th general election.
One wonders why these foreign leaders are allowing themselves to be used to absolve him of economic plunder, the criminal cover-up of 1MDB and the mismanagement of the economy, propping him up as PM while he destroys the country. Why would they do this despite money stolen from Malaysia being laundered globally?
It is obvious that Najib’s reputation as Malaysian Official 1, or MO1, in the biggest case of money laundering in modern history, has sullied Malaysia’s stature as a democratic country governed by the rule of law. Surely, these leaders know (as explicitly stated in the US Department of Justice report) that Najib’s sudden wealth has been at the expense of the Malaysian people, who have since suffered a great deal from the resulting jump in the cost of living.
And yet, US President Trump hosted Najib at the White House, British Prime Minister Theresa May met him at 10 Downing Street, and soon, Prince Charles will be feted by Najib in Malaysia.
Can you blame ordinary Malaysian citizens for thinking that these so-called defenders of Western democracy are complicit in the destruction of Malaysian democratic institutions? Najib sacked a career attorney-general tasked with the initial investigations into 1MDB. Then came an intimidating police raid on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, with specific senior officers transferred or retired. They were all swiftly replaced with stooges, who have cleared the PM of any wrongdoing. Astonishingly, the authorities now deny that crimes had ever been committed in 1MDB.
Consequently, the only noticeable repercussion from the numerous reports by the US media critical of the Najib-Trump meeting is the UK media blackout of May hosting him at her office. The majority of Brits had not a clue. While The Independent criticised the Najib-Trump meeting, it chose to stay silent about the May meeting.
No surprise that the photo op with the British PM was splashed in Malaysian mainstream media. May, who has her hands full with Brexit, chose to play that meeting down. The last thing she needs now is bad press over Najib, unless it has possibly to do with the sales of Eurofighter Typhoons to Malaysia. After all, Trump got a pledge by Najib to spend billions more of the people’s hard-earned pension to Make America Great Again. Even then, Trump is skipping Malaysia on his pivotal Asia trip this month – assuming his presidency survives that long.
Soon, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be making their first official visit to Malaysia. No doubt, Najib will milk their presence here to the last drop for his own political ends. Why the English royalty would put themselves in such an embarrassing situation on the eve of the mother of all elections is mind-boggling.
Prince Charles rightfully opined “that government must be subject to law, and a well-functioning democracy cannot, of course, exist without respect for the rule of law. Government under the law predates democracy and the concept of human rights, but it is surely the basis for both”. Perhaps, Prince Charles has been fed false intelligence reports that the Najib government will continue to rule the country at the next general election. It could be that the UK government, under the illusion that Najib will obtain a new mandate after GE14, will expect a bounty of goodies for the UK later.
Let us not forget that the stepson of Najib is reported by The Wall Street Journal to have bought a ￡23.25 million (RM130.8 million) house in central London in 2012 with money siphoned from 1MDB. There is no indication that the UK government has a problem with this.
Therefore, it is becoming crystal clear that a depraved leader of a developing country like Najib can make use of his ill-gotten wealth to buy friends and endorsements. The fact that his own people back home are suffering and saddled with staggering debt is not of any concern to these leaders of the so-called free world. So much for democracy and the fight against corruption and money laundering.
Perhaps, the moral of this story is that kleptocrats can and do buy allies if the price is right, and that the global fight against money laundering is mere lip service. A kleptokrat is not a criminal if he is our kleptocrat.
Notwithstanding, I stand with my fellow Malaysians undaunted and resolute to put an end to this kleptocrat’s evil reign, and urge leaders of the West to do the right thing or never claim the moral high ground ever again. – November 1, 2017.
* Mukhriz Mahathir is deputy president of Bersatu.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.