It takes 3 ministers to stage a political drama yet so little substance on Najib’s royal pardon quest

WHAT does the word drama mean? Ask the Malaysian government.

In everyday language, it refers to a theatrical performance. It can connote tense and emotional conflicts such as family drama. A political drama refers to an exaggerated behaviour to attract or deflect attention from the main issue. Or is it just a public plaything that politicians conjure?

The charge meted out on former finance minister Tun Daim Zaim Zainuddin for not declaring his assets was a drama – a massive disappointment – because we were all expecting substantive charges like how the gigantic loot was planned and executed 30 years ago. After all, the Pandora papers had all the information published years ago.

Then came the on-and-off meetings of the Pardons Board on disgraced former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s application for pardon. And not to be outdone, there was also the on-and-off announcement of its decision.

And then one Minister [Dr Zaliha Mustafa who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Federal Territory)] had to announce that the Pardons Board would soon announce the decision.

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (right) with Datuk Seri Najib Razak (middle)

It turns out it was not the Pardons Board but another Senior Minister who announced the decision. Then, there was a brief statement (by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail) that the Cabinet only discussed “briefly” Najib’s pardon.

Why briefly? If it’s not the purview of the Cabinet, why put it in the Cabinet meeting in the first place? And to cap it all, another minister (this the third one) had to deny that he leaked the decision of the Pardons Board to the Singapore media (Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil).  There was drama all over the place.

The decision itself was unexpected. It was rumoured to be a reduction of sentence. Did Najib ask for this reduction of punishment? Or was he asking for a pardon? Is the Pardon Board’s generosity solicited? We will never know because we live in a secret world that is full of drama.

Wouldn’t it be less of a headache for the people of this country to be told by the Pardons Board that Najib’s application for a pardon was rejected? Straight and simple answer. But then there would be no drama and we can’t live without it. Ministers had to share the limelight. – Feb 1, 2024


Former de factor law minister and UMNO member Datuk Zaid Ibrahim is a partner of law firm Zaid Ibrahim, Suflan TH Liew & Partners which was appointed by incarcerated former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak on July 25, 2022 to replace Shafee & Co which had been representing him in his RM42 mil SRC International Sdn Bhd case. However, the legal stint lasted less than month after Najib discharged his council for the second time in just two months.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main pic credit: The Vibes

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