THE Pardons Board’s decision to reduce the sentence of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will help strengthen the belief in UMNO supporters that they doing the right thing, said an analyst.
University Malaya political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said UMNO has always taken the stand that Najib had done nothing wrong.
He said they had pointed out the fact that the former prime minister was willing to take his chances in court because he was not guilty.
“Members of the public may have a different view but UMNO members staunchly believe that Najib had been played by people around him,” Awang Azman told FocusM.
“They feel Najib had been lied to and unintentionally became the scapegoat for those behind the 1MDB scandal such as Jho Low and others.”
Awang Azman said this is the same kind of view that was held by PKR supporters when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was jailed.
Awang Azman said PKR supporters took the view that there was a conspiracy against Anwar and they worked hard to get Anwar pardoned.
On April 14, 1999 Anwar was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption and, on Aug 8, 2000, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for sodomy.
The sentences were to be served consecutively, and Anwar was given no credit for the six months he spent in jail during the trial.
The political analyst pointed out there is a difference between Anwar and Najib as Anwar got a full pardon while Najib only had his sentence reduced.
He said this matter does not end here as Najib’s supporters will continue to push hard for a pardon because they want their leader to be innocent.
“Even if the former UMNO president gets a full pardon it does not mean UMNO will be able to get back the support of the Malay grassroots,” Awang Azman opined.
“Bossku supporters feel Najib being free will give the party, UMNO, an edge over other Malay based parties.”
Awang Azman said there is no promise either Najib or UMNO will be able to attract the support of the Malay voters.
He said there remains a huge uncertainty whether Malay voters will support the party and UMNO had been unable to make any headway among Malay grassroots during the last state elections.
He said the only hope UMNO has which remains unclear is that Najib will have some support from Malay voters once he is free. – Feb 13, 2024