By Dato’ Mohd Zaid bin Ibrahim
Najib Razak’s recent interview with Reuters was a political bombshell of sorts; although many do not seem to recognise it. ( However Utusan Malaysia recognised it; and carried the article extensively.) For someone who has been convicted of multiple charges of breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering and sentenced to decades in jail, his announcement that he might contest the next general election is startling and revealing in many aspects.
Najib dispelled this notion that he would be disqualified from contesting in the parliamentary election, a predominantly held view, because of his conviction. He challenged his disqualification, saying, “It is subject to interpretation on the law, the constitution, and whatever happens in court.” There is, of course, a constitutional provision that any person sentenced to imprisonment for more than one year or fined more than 2000 Ringgit is disqualified from contesting a parliamentary election.
Most lawyers will tell you that Najib can only contest if he succeeds in his appeal; or receives a royal pardon. But there is another possibility lurking somewhere which will enable him to contest. Section 311 of the Criminal Procedure Code do not allow for a stay of execution of a sentence, and an appeal does not operate as a stay.; but ” the court below or a judge may stay execution on any judgement, order, conviction or sentence pending appeal, on such terms as the court may impose …
Najib did not explain why he thought he would be able to contest despite the conviction, other than to say it depends on the interpretation of the law. He did not say that he had obtained a stay on the terms envisaged under the Criminal procedure Code. Mystery surrounds this revelation that he will be a candidate, but I am excited all the same.
How can I not be excited to see a rematch of the kind only Malay politics can serve. Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, I believe, still harbours the hope of being a three-time Prime Minister; and Muhyiddin Yassin will want to have another go after being dumped by some rebels within Umno. Anwar Ibrahim still wishes to be PM and go for a last try. It will not be complete if Najib Razak does not join the fray. PAS will probably support UMNO( read Ismail Sabri -Najib Razak team), making Umno strong enough to form a government. It is therefore open for Umno to make Najib Prime Minister. What a comeback that will be!
Dr Mahathir, Najib Razak, Muhyiddin and Anwar are all renowned Malay political gladiators. It will be a missed opportunity if the public does not have a chance to watch the gladiators fight each other in another do or die combat. It will be a spectacle. I think it will be a battle royal this time, for I am certain it will mark the end of some of these gladiators. Perhaps only when the gladiators cancelled out each other and the prolong warfare eclipsed their political strength will the country emerge with a fresh younger set of leaders. Unconnected with the ties and the wounds of the past.
Hopefully, the younger leaders have different make-ups. They could be from less aristocratic upbringings, and accustomed to living a simpler life, and do not have too much wealth. This does not mean there will not be a leader who will come from a Royal household. Anak Raja can be wealthy; at the same time, humble and willing to dedicate his life to helping the country grow. Who can forget the contributions of the late King Bhumibol of Thailand and Palden Tongdup of Sikkim. In fact I hope some of the more outspoken and assertive prince/ princess from the Malay Royal household will decide to join politics and be directly involved with the issues plaguing the country. Its one thing to reprimand and lectures politicians on their shortcomings; but it will be more satisfying to be a participant and player in the nation’s politics.
Someone with a strong religious upbringing will do much good, for religion brings values like humility, honesty, kindness and compassion. That’s what true faith is supposed to do. A religious person does not mean the Taliban type of leader; who wants to proselytise, convert, and impose so-called God’s laws in the country. A good religious leader cares about humanity, the environment and all God’s creatures, rich and poor; big and small. A fresh new leader who wants to do good for the country is now very much needed. Of course that has to wait for GE16; as the position of supremo will still be filled by the gladiators in the next general election.
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This post first appeared on Zaid Ibrahim‘s Facebook page.