SOMETIMES, words are cheap. Ultimately it is our action or non-action that is the best gauge of who we really are.
Take former prime mnister Najib Razak. At every opportunity, he has maintained that he was an innocent victim in the multi-billion ringgit heist otherwise known to the world as the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.
This is what he said in June last year: “I would like to repeat that I didn’t receive any benefits or steal money from 1MDB or any party… I am confident the courts will find me innocent.”
This is what he said in July last year: “I am confident in my innocence. I believe in my innocence. This is the best chance for me to clear my name after the numerous accusations and slander levelled against me.”
This is what he said in September last year: “The issue of the RM2.6 billion has been widely used to slander and tarnish my name… I can prove to the public that I am not a thief. I hope the trial will clear up and wipe out this issue.”
But these words sound hollow today.
All that talk of wanting his day in court to prove his innocence has been just talk. Najib and his team of lawyers seem determined to make sure that Tuesday’s trial, for laundering of RM42 million from SRC International, does not take place.
Yesterday, Najib made a last-ditch attempt to postpone the trial – the first of many he will face for his alleged role in the pilfering of funds from the government fund.
He wants the Court of Appeal to stay the trial until a decision is made on a peripheral objection raised by the defence team.
Najib is facing six charges linked to money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million into his account from SRC International, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.
He is also accused of abusing his power as the prime minister by giving a government guarantee on SRC’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.
On Wednesday, High Court judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali dismissed Najib’s oral application to postpone the trial.
Here’s the thing: why would a man who has professed his innocence and who has ostensibly been waiting more than six months to tell his side of the story now do his best to shut that window of opportunity?
Alright, let us take Najib Razak out of the equation.
Instead, let’s insert ourselves into the picture. Let’s insert the average Malaysian into the centre of a roiling scandal.
Let’s assume that we have been hammered over our involvement in some nasty and sordid business dealings and the world media have had a field day tearing our reputation to shreds.
If we believe in our innocence and have sufficient evidence to stuff it into every one of our detractors in a courtroom, would we want to adjourn our day of reckoning?
Not a chance.
Najib’s desire to postpone his criminal trial is a far cry from the fighting words he employed a few months ago.