04 April 2023

Will Zahid drag Anwar down?...

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Ahmad Zahid Hamidi don’t seem to share the same priorities. Anwar is constantly emphasising good governance, accountability and the importance of political stability.

Zahid, on the other hand, seems to be pursuing an agenda that has more to do with his own ambitions than the success of the unity government. 

The latest sign of this dissonance was the abrupt change of chief minister in Malacca a few days ago. The Malacca state government was stable and doing reasonably well. Zahid, however, was not content.

Obsessed with strengthening his grip on the party and putting his own men in key positions, Zahid quietly sanctioned a backdoor move against the chief minister. 

It was all about power and ambition, nothing more. To cover up the power play, the new chief minister is talking about forming a “unity” exco; as if that couldn’t have been accomplished under the previous chief minister.

Abdul Rauf Yusof,KM Melaka ke-13

It may be recalled that Zahid was behind a similar move in Sabah when his henchman there tried to orchestrate the overthrow of the state government. Though the plan failed when local assemblypersons refused to go along with it, the plotting continues.

What does it say about Zahid’s priorities when he continues to undermine the political stability that his boss the prime minister is working so hard to consolidate?  Make no mistake, Zahid’s power plays are rubbing a lot of Umno members the wrong way and could backfire against both Umno and the unity government.

It is not the only example of Zahid and Umno working at cross purposes with the overall thrust of Anwar’s unity government. The ridiculous vendetta against former attorney-general Tommy Thomas by Umno’s Azalina Othman Said (law and institutional reform minister) is another jarring note.

With all the pressing challenges facing the government, why go after a Pakatan Harapan appointee who did his job with courage, integrity and professionalism? It makes no sense except to feed the fake Umno narrative that its leaders were unfairly persecuted by Thomas. 

And then there are all those crony appointments by Zahid which fly smack in the face of the prime minister’s commitment to good governance. Haven’t we had enough of Umno political appointees who ended up stealing public funds and mismanaging the agencies they were appointed to?

Credibility of Anwar administration

Why the need to bring back politicians who were such a big part of the culture of corruption and abuse of power that has done so much damage to our nation? Anthony Loke (DAP) and others might jump through hoops to justify Zahid’s appalling appointments but the people are not so easily fooled. All they see are conniving and unprincipled politicians who can’t be trusted to honour their promises and live up to their own ideals. 

Of course, Anwar needs Zahid and Umno to maintain a stable majority in Parliament. To keep Zahid onside, the prime minister might feel he has to allow Zahid a free hand and give him some free passes too including the suspicious decision by ROS to help Zahid avoid an internal leadership challenge and the surprising move by the AGC not to object to Zahid’s request for the return of his passport.

But sooner or later, it is going to affect the credibility of the Anwar administration. Certainly, it is going to be very embarrassing when Zahid, with his freshly regained diplomatic passport, makes his first foray abroad as one of the faces of the Anwar administration.

What message will it convey to the world when the deputy prime minister of a government that is supposedly committed to good governance and fighting corruption is himself facing multiple charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of power?

If Zahid had any loyalty to his prime minister, he would simply stay at home until the case against him has been resolved; but Zahid is too focused on redeeming himself to care about what the world thinks about the unity government.

If Anwar wants to ensure his administration thrives, he needs to find a way to rein in Zahid’s worst instincts and put his own agenda – the agenda that he speaks so passionately and unceasingly about – front and centre of everything the administration does. The unity government must be about Anwar’s agenda, not Zahid’s personal quest to redeem himself and consolidate his own power. - Dennis Ignatius,mk

No more cherries on the cake for Najib...

Habis. The end. It is all done - finito. And certainly, the curtains must come down on former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s SRC International case.The theatrics in and outside court, the wailing ladies and the band of merry men in the hundreds have to gulung tikar and tutup kedai - roll up the mats and close shop.After almost five years of the public being treated to the lifestyle of one who was once the most powerful man in the country, the end was inevitable.

The drama that unfolded at the High Court five years ago had all the hallmarks of unrestrained and uncontrollable power. As each witness had their say before the judge, the documents that were adduced resulted in “oohs” and “aahs” when the media reported them contemporaneously in news portals or in newspapers the following day.

The evidence showed that the course of the exercise of this was neither intricate nor perplexing. It was straightforward. Money meant for a different purpose was diverted for personal use.These accusations were supported by credit card bills, telephone messages, and the paperwork on the transmission of millions of ringgit on instructions from a third party whose mysteriously and anonymous identity was revealed to the court.

From the purchase of diamonds to a million ringgit being spent on a hotel stay, the details were peeled as the accused could only sit and hear, and on occasion, use the mobile phone to check the state of his hair which also showed a frail face. But when this was questioned by the judge and consequently reported by the media, they were told: “If they want to be the fourth or fifth estate, they shouldn’t act like estate people.” An act of anger for reporting the truth? It was debatable and I wrote a scathing retort.

Game, set, and match

But all this drama was before the conviction. What followed were extrajudicial issues that made the headlines. Impropriety, conflict of interests, and other unfounded claims were circulated and the judge who convicted Najib became the target of a smear campaign.

The accused had another bite at the cherry - this time at the Court of Appeal - and the three judges affirmed the decision of the court below without batting an eye. The trial judge had based his decision on the facts before him, nothing more.

This was followed by more drama when the case came before the highest court in the land - the Federal Court. A change of lawyers, a last-minute plea for an extension of time which was turned down, and the rest, as they say, is history.

On Friday, it was the finale. A review of that court’s decision and the verdict was 4-1 for the prosecution. It was the last-chance saloon - game, set, and match. Oh, not that fast. Because of one dissenting judgment, the door is open, says the lawyer.

Yes, it is often said that two lawyers can give three different opinions. But, as an American lawyer said in jest - legal opinions are like belly buttons, everyone has one! So, a review on a review is on the cards. What happens if it fails? Another review? The court will have the opportunity to put an end to this charade which has already cost the state time, effort, and money.

The proverbial fat lady has sung. And for the lesser mortals - the ordinary folks whose hard-earned money was stolen and misused, we can take cognition that justice has been done and seen to be done. - R.Nadeswaran


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