IT doesn’t take a political pundit to tell you that Prime Minister Najib Razak is planning to exit and he wants all the safeguards that he will not be hounded thereafter. The questions that beg immediate answers are: when to do it and who could he rely on?
To recollect, Najib always had his strategic moves well-crafted and apparently, made little mistakes in executing his schemes.
The jailing of Anwar Ibrahim was expedited in 2013, intercepting the original plan of “Kajang move” in March 2014. He later “contrived” to get PAS out of Pakatan Rakyat after initiating the “gesture” for PAS to table the private member’s bill, first mooted in Parliament by his minister from the Prime Minister’s Office, Jamil Khir Baharom in October 2014.
Abdul Hadi Awang’s unilateral submission of the bill in March 2015, despite promising to first table it to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Presidential Council, but didn’t, got DAP so upset as to announce that it could no longer work with the PAS president after several flip-flops.
PAS later responded by leaving PR, except in the administration of the state of Selangor. PR literally went defunct but was later replaced by Pakatan Harapan (after the formation of Parti Amanah Negara in September 2015).
Soon after the demise of Tok Guru Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Najib and his cohorts (plus the Barisan Nasional media) were also “complicit” in the eventual ousting of the so-called “moderates” in PAS in the July 2015 muktamar.
The “moderates” were seen as the greatest stumbling block to PAS-Umno championing the “Malay-Muslim supremacist” doctrine, which Najib has totally relied on, to “turn around” his flagging political position, especially among the Malay-Muslim constituencies.
The rhetoric of RUU355 as the battle-cry for Malay-Muslim unity and supremacy, meanwhile, grew louder and framed as being the “Unity of Islam” against all the other “anti-Islam” forces.
The tagline of “Tsunami Islam” reverberated in the pink rally of RUU355 of February 18, 2017. On record, Jamil Khir spoke in the demonstration and confessed that he was there, on instruction of his boss, Najib.
The perennial problems of the rakyat, namely rising cost of living, endemic corruption and a kleptocratic government which plundered billions of taxpayers’ funds, were conveniently relegated.
Thus far, Najib felt secure despite many jurisdictions, namely the Department of Justice of the United States (DoJ), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Finma of Switzerland, pursuing and persecuting those linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (Najib’s brainchild).
The institutions created to help and develop the poor Malays – Felda, Mara, and even Tabung Haji – were not spared, while those now working hand-in-glove with the government on RUU355, have seemingly forgotten the real enemies of the people.
Najib sees in Hadi a new reliable ally who will save him from the scourge of the rakyat i.e. the Malay-Muslim constituencies, because Hadi has, on record, wanted four witnesses and requiring proof of kleptocracy for the RM2.6 billion deposited into Najib’s personal accounts.
Turning back against his earlier decision to take over from the Marang MP amendments to RUU355 in the last parliamentary session (for fear of retribution in BN), Najib, at the eleventh hour, initiated a move to save his skin and that of Hadi’s.
Najib allowed the tabling of Hadi’s private member’s bill for the third time, without a debate and much less to put it to a vote.
Granted the entire backdrop and litany of heinous crimes of kleptocracy of unprecedented proportions, imagining Najib having endless and nightmarish sleepless nights is a gross understatement.
Now, on the verge of a defining 14th general election (GE14), Najib must contrive and execute his next strategic move i.e. his master stroke.
This unprovoked and unprecedented move of Najib to appoint his first cousin Hishammuddin Hussein as a special functions minister can only be interpreted as a plan for his eventual “safe” exit.
Najib and his Cabinet can come out with all kinds of rationale or grandmother stories for this appointment. But the public is not least bothered, let alone empathise with his alleged predicament of having too many things to attend to.
The strategic issue left to be determined is of timing – when Najib will leave. If Najib leads the charge in GE14 for Umno-BN, there is great likelihood, as per many polls of him and his government approval ratings have shown, the rakyat seems unforgiving and in great distress.
If it finally dawns on Najib and the warlords of Umno that he has to leave pre-election as to ensure Umno-BN survival, Najib will have to execute his final move of exiting and allow Hishammuddin to take the helm. The actual dynamics look arguably more complex and far from an easy feat, much as it could turn fast to a slippery slope.
Come what may, Pakatan Harapan is ever so ready to take on Umno-BN in the truly “Mother of all battles”. If victory is to be secured, may l humbly submit that all PH leaders must concede that winning is the ultimate objective for reform to happen.
It must take precedence over any other partisan considerations. That discourse is for another piece.