By Abdul Rashid Hasnol
SOMETIME before the 2018 general election, a video that caught some attention was a karaoke number, If Tomorrow Never Comes sang by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.
Her rendition of the original hit sung by American Garth Brooks in 1989, included generous footage of her with her ex-PM husband Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in romantic settings. The public display of affection was unmistakable
During the heydays of the Najib administration, the duo were inseparable, not just as husband and wife, but as a power couple in the country’s personality-driven political landscape. The ongoing corruption trial of Rosmah has confirmed suspicions that Ministers and senior officials were terrified of the woman whom they had referred to as “Ma’am”.
The fact that the former First Couple were divorcees when they tied the knot and had children from previous marriages did not affect the strong bond they shared beyond their matrimonial home.
In fact, Rosmah’s son from her previous marriage, Riza Aziz, was instrumental in introducing to Najib, Jho Low, the fugitive businessman at the centre of the 1MDB scandal.
While Jho Low and his co-conspirators siphoned off billions of taxpayers’ money via a complex web of cross-border business dealings, Riza himself also benefited when it was revealed that 1MDB money also allegedly went into his film-producing company, Red Granite Pictures.
But like a house of cards, it all collapsed when the Najib-led Barisan Nasional lost the watershed 2018 general election for the first time since Independence. Previously thought to be “untouchables”, top leaders including Najib and Rosmah were hauled to court for a litany of corruption and money laundering charges.
Riza himself was also in the dock for money laundering, but charges were dropped last May after he agreed to return undisclosed sums of money to the Government, said to be running into millions of ringgit.
Meanwhile, Najib and his wife are not so lucky. The ex-PM has been convicted of corruption and abuse of power and sentenced to 12 years jail and a fine of RM210 million, with a host of other charges still hanging over him. He is appealing against the conviction and remains a free man.
Last week Rosmah was ordered to enter defence over her corruption trial, which saw an ex-Minister in her husband’s then Cabinet, senior government officials and her own aide testifying against her.
But any speculations of the power couple drifting apart now that Najib is no longer the country’s most powerful man, has been put to rest. Najib last week applied, and was granted consent, to be by his wife during the court decision on whether Rosmah would have to call for her defence.
He wanted to lend moral support to Rosmah, who gained further notoriety with the phrase “Can I advise you something?” when speaking condescendingly to her then-PM husband in a leaked phone recording which has since gone viral.
For now, the lovebirds are free and can enjoy each other’s company. Whether they will be eventually separated by jail cells, is anyone’s guess. Unlike Rosmah’s karaoke rendition, tomorrow will certainly come. – Feb 22, 2021
Abdul Rashid Hasnol is a Focus Malaysia editorial contributor.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.