Bouquets and brickbats: Ruling on Najib gets mixed reactions in Malaysia

Coverage by: The Straits Times

Related News: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/bouquets-and-brickbats-for-court-decision-to-overturn-najibs-appeal

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian Federal Court’s decision on Tuesday (Aug 23) to uphold former premier Najib Razak’s 1MDB-linked graft conviction was widely hailed as a huge victory for Malaysians who have seen a raft of major scandals over the decades, with those seen as guilty often slipping away.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the court’s decision “proves the people are powerful and have made a decision to ensure the judiciary is free to clean the country of corruption”. 

Non-governmental organisation Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism described the five-judge panel’s unanimous decision as “a phenomenal victory”. 

“This judgment resoundingly reasserts the principle that no individual is above the law, not even a former prime minister,” it said in a statement.

“The sentencing of Najib Razak has reaffirmed trust in the judicial process and has brought new optimism for a better Malaysia.”

“Today’s guilty verdict for the former prime minister serves as a testament to the efforts of whistle-blowers, media workers, investigators, civil society organisations, public officials, and members of the public who spoke up and exposed his crimes for all to see.”

The hashtag #NajibRazak was trending on Twitter on Tuesday, with memes about his “welcome” to prison being shared via social media.

Twitter user atame said: “It’s looking to be the best Merdeka ever in Malaysia! History in opposing the Kleptocrats.” Malaysia will celebrate its National Day on Aug 31.

But those in Najib’s camp condemned what they claim was the court’s decision to hurry the final appeal along.

Umno’s vice-president Mahdzir Khalid tweeted: “I personally feel very sympathetic to Najib and his family… Whatever happens, his service to Umno and the country cannot be denied at all.”

He added: “Justice hurried is justice buried.”

Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan said he hoped Najib and his family would remain strong, adding that the ruling will be judged by the people.

Najib was Umno chairman till May 2018 and remained influential in the party even after his conviction in 2020, which he appealed against twice.

He was on Tuesday sentenced to 12 years’ jail for misappropriating millions of dollars from a company linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

On Tuesday, Najib’s daughter Nooryana posted on Instagram: “Maybe we didn’t fight hard enough. Maybe we placed our fullest trust in our justice system. Maybe we believed too whole-heartedly in our cause and purpose so we stood defiantly these past four years.

“Yet you did not get your day of justice today, neither did we stand a fighting chance. But Bossku does not end here,” she added, referring to his moniker.

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