Yesterday was a historic day as, for the first time in our relatively short history as a nation, a former prime minister was convicted of criminal offences. As such, almost the entirety of today’s newsletter is devoted to one Najib Razak, his SRC International trial and reactions to it.

By the way, if you want some comprehensive (if we do say so ourselves) background and context to the trial – and in case you missed it – you can read our newsletter yesterday, here, before heading into what happened.

Guilty as sin

From Pekan to ... prison?

The High Court yesterday convicted former PM Najib Razak on all seven counts of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering in connection with one of his two SRC International trials, a historic decision that will have a far-reaching impact on the national and political stage. 
 
The decision sends a warning to all and sundry that no one is safe from prosecution for corrupt practices, even ex-prime ministers (or ex-PMs twice over😉😉). And, should Jibby end up in jail, that will leave a huge power vacuum within BN and Perikatan, despite his diminished status even before his conviction.
 
But more on that later. Let’s focus on the trial proceedings right now.
 
In convicting Najib of charges connected to RM42 million taken from SRC International, judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali said testimony confirmed that fugitive financier and portly pirate Jho Low was indeed involved in the dastardly deed and noted that our man Jibby had failed to prove his signatures on certain important documents had been forged. Nazlan said all roads in the SRC International case led to proverbial Rome (that’s the Jibster, in case you may be confused). 
 
Following the verdict, Najib’s lead defence counsel Shafee Abdullah asked for mitigation to be heard on Monday as he wanted to call one or two witnesses for the process, but this was objected to by the prosecution. In the end, Nazlan ruled that mitigation would start immediately
 
In mitigation, Shafee maintained his client’s innocence, arguing that the only thing he was guilty of was “over-trusting” certain people and that he had not acted with bad motives. He also cited other mitigating factors like Jibby not having any outstanding traffic summonses (what the devil does this have to do with anything?), that SRC International was set up with genuine intentions (again, we fail to see what this has to do with the trial) and that the former PM had given his full cooperation to the authorities. 
 
The prosecution, however, asked for a deterrent sentence to be handed down as this was a first-of-its-kind case which had tarnished Malaysia’s image thanks to the kleptocracy involved. For the abuse of power charge, the prosecution sought a RM210 million fine plus mandatory jail sentence, for the CBT charges they sought jail terms of between two and 20 years, and for the money laundering charges, jail terms of 15 years and RM210 million fine. 
 
Once both the defence and prosecution had finished, Najib delivered an off-the-cuff speech from the dock in his own mitigation. He detailed his achievements in his nine-year tenure as PM, saying that he had delivered a “fairer, gentler society” by abolishing the Internal Security Act, and was responsible for “massive” infrastructure development and a robust economic growth, even swearing a sumpah laknat for what must have been the umpteenth time that he had no inkling that RM42 million was taken from SRC International. When in doubt, whip out the holy book, eh?
 
OK. We gotta say this. Sure, you oversaw the repeal of the ISA, but this was replaced by the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act which, in many people’s opinions, is just as bad. Oh, and what about the the equally oppressive Anti-Fake News Act you introduced?

And yes, we can’t deny there were many infrastructural development projects and robust economic growth during your tenure, but how much went into the pockets of cronies (which was likely the case during the time of your predecessors as well) and how much better could it have been without the whole 1MDB-SRC International affair? Also, how are these mitigating factors? You were literally just doing your job, dude!
 
Anyhow, after hearing mitigation, Nazlan handed down jail term of 72 years and fine of RM210 million. Najib received a prison term of 12 years for the abuse of power charge and 10 years on each of the three CBT and three money laundering charges. However, Nazlan ordered the prison sentences to run concurrently (meaning at the same time), so Jibby will only serve 12 years. 
 
Despite the sentences, however, Jibs avoided being put in an orange jumpsuit and taken away to prison, at least for now, when Nazlan granted a stay of execution pending appeal.

Nazlan cited Najib’s ‘special circumstances’ in allowing the stay, namely that being thrown behind bars would inconvenience him and impinge on his right to defend himself in his other cases. Jibby’s defence also argued that he can’t pay the RM210 million fine thanks to the RM1.69 billion Inland Revenue Board bill he’s facing for overdue tax.

But don’t worry. The Jibster didn’t get to talk his way out of this completely. Nazlan did increase his bail to RM1 million and ordered our beloved former leader (or is that former beloved leader?) to pay the amount immediately. 
 
Najib, the Pekan MP, can now appeal the conviction to the Court of Appeal and then to the Federal Court, the nation’s highest court, should he fail in the CoA. The whole process could take another year and should he fail in his bid to overturn his conviction in the apex court, Jibby could even avoid prison if he receives a royal pardon. 

Despite attempts being made later by certain quarters online to discredit Nazlan’s impartiality, Shafee heaped praises on the judge after proceedings, saying he was an honest man. Shafee, however, said Nazlan made honest mistakes during the trial. 

The nonsense outside

While things were going on in court – and, in truth, even before it started – the shenanigans outside the KL court complex sent shivers down spines during these trying times, especially with a resurgence of Covid-19 cases nationwide.
 
Najib arrived for his D-Day in court yesterday (at least for now… after all, he still has other charges to face) under tight security. Even then, he was greeted by more than 1,000 supporters
 
Many of these supporters weren’t even wearing face masks, and social distancing was nowhere to be seen. And, they ignored repeated police warnings to follow the Covid-19 SOPs which the government has in place, which is ironic since Jibby is a member of the Perikatan gomen. 
 
People who viewed this nonsense online were quick to condemn such idiocy. They also questioned why the authorities weren’t acting against these covidiots. Even Health DG Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah lamented the ludicrous behaviour of Jibby’s supporters, saying he was saddened by what he saw
 
One MP in the Dewan Rakyat also commented, saying this could spark another Covid-19 cluster (and a massive one at that, it would seem). Another said it could even lead to a cluster in Parliament, claiming that several BN lawmakers were in the crowd yesterday. 
 
All this led police to say compound fines would be issued to those gathered outside the court complex. Sadly, this would be too late should anyone be infected thanks to the lack of brainpower compliance to Covid-19 SOPs. 
 
The crowd’s exuberance yesterday saw one man arrested for attempting to climb the court complex gate. But that exuberance soon turned to tears, confusion and anger once word came down of Najib’s guilty verdict. They raged that the verdict was wrong, but what can anyone expect considering their Malaysian Idol faces the prospect of a long jail term and a massive fine. 
 
Once the day was done, we saw that other stupid thing Malaysians are known for: littering. They left behind a whole lot of garbage like food containers, plastic water bottles, cigarette butts and even disposable face masks. 

Really, why can’t Malaysians learn from the Japanese? They even clean up stadiums after football matches.

Reactions. Reactions everywhere

Our former glorious leader’s conviction, of course, elicited reactions from everybody and their mother.
 
It wasn’t just those gathered outside the court complex who spoke. Political leaders from both sides of the political divide and analysts gave their two sen worth of opinions about the verdict and the political implications. 
 

Here are some of the reactions, in brief:

  • Umno president and BN chairman, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said it wasn’t game over for his now infamous predecessor and urged Umno members to stay calm. Though he said he sympathised with Jibby as a friend, Zahid said Umno would make a “political decision” soon, though there is no indication what this could be. 
     
  • Umno Youth says it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, or something like that, while other Umno leaders expressed sympathy for the devil Najib. Meanwhile, Umno’s Muafakat Nasional partner PAS says the verdict wouldn’t affect the partnership. Because better a corrupt Muslim leader than a clean kafir, right?
     
  • Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, however, chose a different tack, saying it was time to “throw off the shackles” of Najib’s case, rebuild and look at a leadership transition that will take the party into a new era. Hmmm… looking at taking over, are we, Khairy? 
     
  • While one Umno Supreme Council member says Jibby’s reputation as a prominent leader wouldn’t be diminished (what the hell is he smoking and where can we get some?!?!?), another Supreme Council member chose to, astonishingly enough, attack current PM (and nominal leader of his own coalition) Muhyiddin Yassin, saying that Moo would be “smiling the widest” as he was the biggest winner of all, a position concurred with by an analyst
     
  • Muhyiddin himself commented, saying the government would always abide by the rule of law and calling for everyone to trust the judiciary. At the same time, MooMoo says the government respected the Jibster’s right to appeal
     
  • Pakatan leaders of course rejoiced, saying the verdict was a great day for justice and lauded voters for booting out the Najib administration in 2018 as this had eventually led to yesterday’s conviction. 
     
  • The opposition leaders, journalists and other personalities, meanwhile, called the verdict justice for all Malaysians
     
  • Meanwhile, Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, who championed the fight against Najib over the 1MDB scandal, says she has been vindicated and that the judgment was no longer a case of “foreign lies”. 
     
  • Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar “Art” Harun says, pending appeals, Jibby will continue to be Pekan MP. So, those hoping for a by-election will have to wait till the appeals process is done with. 


And what do us bozos at BTL have to add to all of this? Well, simply this. Even if the Jibster eventually (and that ‘eventually’ really is a long way away) does pay for his crimes, the situation isn’t as binary as guilty Jibby = good news for Pakatan/bad news for Perikatan.

A free Jibby is not just a troll and thorn in the side of people like Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakatan friends, but also possibly somebody who has a very good chance of making another bid for the Umno presidency and subsequently, the PM-ship. 

This means a free Jibby may not necessarily be something desirable to Muhyiddin, Zahid, Azmin Ali and Jibby’s other ‘friends’ in Perikatan. In jail, however, Jibby – who let’s admit it, still does command a lot of grassroots support – can be a lightning rod, painted as a martyr figure in Umno’s quest to regain glory. 

In other words, there may be as many people silently hoping for the Jibster to sing Jailhouse Rock as there are those who are openly calling for it. 

All other things

Of course, the SRC International trial wasn’t the only thing that happened yesterday. Here are some of the choice pickings from other news items we thought we’d include for your reading pleasure:

  • After a hope-filled day when we only saw seven new cases, our Covid-19 numbers have shot up again, with 39 new cases reported yesterday, the highest since June 15. This has seen our active cases jumping up to 212 and the total number of cases so far nearing the 9,000 mark. There were only six recoveries reported yesterday. 
     
  • Two new clusters – one in Kedah and the other in Sarawak – have been reported, with the former having been caused by a returnee who broke home quarantine
     
  • Kuching is now a Covid-19 red zone with 16 active cases. Samarahan, Serian, Bau, and Lundu districts have also changed status from green to yellow zones. 
     
  • The MCO period saw the Welfare Department receive 190 cases of complaints of domestic violence
     
  • Warisan president Shafie Apdal has urged the Perikatan government to stop politicking and join hands with the opposition to work to help the people during the pandemic. 
     
  • The Perikatan has scrapped the plan by the previous Pakatan administration to abolish the University and University Colleges Act as it was “still relevant”. 
     
  • The debate over whether Prophet Muhammad was a “refugee” continued yesterday, with de facto religious affairs minister citing a biography by a scholar which argued that the hijrah was not an act of fleeing
     
  • Perak Perikatan will field a candidate from Umno for the Slim by-election, to be held on Aug 29. 
     
  • This year’s National Month was launched by PM Moo yesterday, with the theme for both the Aug 31 National Day and Sept 16 Malaysia Day celebrations being “Malaysia Prihatin”
     
  • The Transport Ministry is offering discounts of up to 70% on traffic summonses issued by the Road Transport Department (RTD) and the Land Public Transport Commission, in conjunction with National Month. 

“The verdict of the world is conclusive."

- St Augustine -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • US Attorney-General William Barr defended himself against attacks by House of Representatives Democrats who accused him of doing President Donald Trump’s bidding by intervening in high-profile cases and sending federal agents into cities to disperse protests. 
     
  • New Zealand has suspended an extradition treaty it has with Hong Kong, the latest country to act against Beijing and the Chinese special administrative region over the introduction of a controversial security law. 
     
  • The US, EU, the UK and Australia have urged Hong Kong to commit to a “free and fair” legislative council election scheduled for Sept 6 after Hong Kong’s pan-democrats expressed worries that the election would be canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic in an attempt to usurp what was expected to be a big win for them. 
     
  • German officials are “very concerned” about the rising number of infections, while UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of a second wave of Covid-19 in Europe
     
  • Brad Pitt has been nominated for an Emmy for his role as leading US coronavirus expert Dr Anthony Fauci on “Saturday Night Live”. For the full list of Emmy nominations, you can go here

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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