The PM’s political acumen has proven to be keener than many may have thought.
Malaysia has been getting a lot of international attention lately. Ever since the Wall Street Journal published an explosive expose revealing that Prime Minister Najib Razak received a mysterious RM2.6 billion deposit in his personal bank accounts, international media have pounced on every scoop and development they can find on the case, and the findings have been astonishing to say the least.
Factor in a rogue Umno leader running around the world to lodge police reports against Najib and 1MDB, and you get the kind of publicity even money cannot buy. None of it is good for Najib, of course. Khairuddin Abu Hassan’s efforts are perhaps the best bet for any form of legal recourse against the PM, given the recent defanging of our public institutions.
However, it is not a given that any of Khairuddin’s police reports will bear fruit. If no smoking gun is discovered in the course of the investigations, all the police reports and media coverage will have been for naught. Suaram learned that the hard way when French authorities turned up records showing Najib, Abdul Razak Baginda and the late Altantuya Shaariibuu were never in France together to broker the infamous Scorpene deal.
Khairuddin’s efforts may go down the same road.
Najib was extremely careless in allowing the RM2.6 billion to be transferred to his personal accounts, but corporations have made an art out of hiding their dirty deeds – if there is indeed any dirty deed to be attributed to 1MDB.
But of more interest is the recent development that has seen Khairuddin arrested on suspicion of trying to topple the government. It is Najib’s latest move to put Mahathir and his forces in checkmate. Having thwarted the earlier plot to unseat him through the country’s public institutions, Najib rested on his laurels only to hear of Khairuddin’s travels and exploits and, realizing the compromising position an international investigation would put him in, now looks to cut the head off the snake before it bites.
Of course, Khairuddin has already lodged reports in several countries, many of them with highly reputable anti-corruption task forces. As yet, there’s no telling what fruits their investigations will bear. Nonetheless, removing his ability to traverse the world freely puts a damper on continued efforts to discredit Najib internationally, and that could be the killing blow.
If international investigations do not turn up incriminating evidence, Najib will be more powerful than ever. He can then claim that he was investigated by some of the world’s leading anti-corruption squads and was found as innocent as a newborn babe, and his administration will gain a massive public relations victory over Mahathir.
Najib’s political acumen has proven to be keener than many may have thought, and if Khairuddin’s gambit fails, the PM will may well win his war against Mahathir. Even the dissenters in his party are becoming resigned to the notion that perhaps Najib cannot be removed after all, despite the best efforts of a former Prime Minister recognised as perhaps one of the most cunning political operators this country has ever seen.
Of course, Najib has not won the war until the reports lodged against him have been fully investigated and the results released to the public. For now, however, it looks like Malaysia’s 6th Prime Minister will remain in power, barring any unexpected development. Mahathir must now be asking himself, “What else do I do to take Najib down?”