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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

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Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Deny Najib A Royal Pardon

 Deny Najib Razak A Royal Pardon

M. Bakri Musa


In his last address to Parliament in February 2023, the current and soon-to-be (January 31, 2024) former Agung expressed his hope that Anwar Ibrahim would be the last Prime Minister he had to work with before returning to his old position as the Sultan of Pahang. His remarks drew laughter in the House.


            Sultan Abdullah had sworn in not one but three Prime Ministers, and worked with four during his statutory five-year reign. Remarkable! More than half of his 15 predecessors never had the opportunity to swear in any, while more than a few were stuck with the same old tired face during their entire reign.


            Back to the parliamentary joke, who could forget the parade of lawmakers going to the palace with their “Statutory Declarations” (SDs) in hand, like naughty school kids with excuse letters headed for the headmaster’s office. 


            As a needless reminder, the two successive individuals the Agung had chosen to lead the nation through the wisdom of his “SD in back pocket” maneuver, Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri, did not last long. Both are also now being investigated for corruption. That reflects as much on the pair as who had picked them.


            Had palace advisors sought wider counsel and pursued other options, as with having the normal process of the Deputy Prime Minister taking over, Malaysia would have been spared the ensuing unnecessary and destructive political turmoil. The nation would then have not only her first lady leader but also one whose IQ is several deciles above Muhyiddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri combined. Sultan Abdullah would then go down in history as having sworn in Malaysia’s first female Prime Minister.


            For Malaysians who think that the endless political intrigues and nightmarish leadership incompetence are now finally over, hold on! The present Agung has two more weeks in office. Much mischief could still happen. Witness the much-hyped aborted so-called Dubai move that would have paid government MPs millions to abandon their support for Anwar. Now that the Dubai Move has failed and been exposed, Anwar’s enemies, Mahathir included, are desperate to disassociate themselves from that amateurish attempt. 


            No doubt they are now busy concocting other sly schemes. However, with the bank accounts of their behind-the-scenes operatives now frozen, they are severely handicapped but not eliminated.


            Then consider this. The Pardon Board will meet next week. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak, now in jail for his 1MDB corruption, had petitioned the Board. He is still on trial for other related criminal and civil cases.


            If the out-going Agung were to pardon Najib, that would embolden the corrupt and dwarf the parliamentary circus of February 2023. Now the whole world would be laughing at Malaysia.


            The incoming Agung, the Sultan of Johore, has made it clear his abhorrence for corrupt leaders and threatened to pursue them even if they are nearing a hundred years old. That was a none-too-subtle reference to Mahathir, the nation’s longest serving leader (1981 to 2003) who later made a spectacular comeback at age 90 (2018-2020).


            Mahathir’s most visible and malignant legacy is his bequeathing Malaysia with five successors who were corrupt, incompetent, or both. Worse, he threw Malaysia into an unnecessary political turmoil at a time when she could least afford it when Covid-19 pandemic first struck in 2020.


            Mahathir’s latest comeback attempt at the November 2022 election was met with utter humiliation. He lost his electoral deposits! Who says Malays mudah lupa? (Forget easily). It is the old man who does, for he is again contemplating a comeback through his many still gullible proxies. This time it is not for political glory but personal salvation for the old man as he and his sons are finally feeling the heat of Anwar’s anticorruption crusade. Mahathir is even more dangerous and cunning now. A cornered cobra, if not handled smartly, could wreak havoc.


            The incoming Agung has fired a shot across the bow to preempt any attempt by the current Agung to pardon Najib. Malay sultans are loath to criticize each other, at least in public. The Sultan of Johore however, is not shy to express his views.


            In that parliamentary speech of February 2023, Agung Abdullah added that the political instability of the immediate preceding few years could have been avoided if politicians had been able to unite and focus on the people. He deftly and conveniently glossed over his own pivotal role. The outgoing Agung would redeem himself if he were to deny Najib Razak a royal pardon. That would also be the right thing to do.


            If the Agung were to do otherwise, he would undermine Prime Minister Anwar’s crusade against corruption, and demoralize those who put their lives in danger in their fight against corruption in high places. The greatest threat to the Anwar Administration is not such juvenile attempts as the so-called Dubai Move and other fantasies, rather Najib letting himself be exploited by the disgruntled corrupt.


            What a terrible legacy that would be for Sultan Abdullah.




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