Najib's trolley problem

Opinion  |  James Chai
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Imagine a trolley rolling down the track, heading towards five workers. It is too late to stop it. The only thing you could do is to pull the lever to divert the trolley to another track with one worker. What would you do?

Would you rather kill one worker in order to save five? Or do you think there is no moral difference in killing one or five?

This is the classical ethical question in the utilitarian tradition of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

When former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak was pushing his trolley on the aisle of Tesco in Semenyih, I thought about his trolley problem.

Trolley problem adapted

The trolley rolling down the track in Najib’s case is his political career. And the two choices faced by Najib is whether to drag just Umno (one worker) or the whole Malaysian society with him (five workers).

As we inch closer to Najib’s days of reckoning in court, he is also aware that his probability of surviving is slim.

So far, there are 42 criminal charges against him relating to corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering.

Although the legal process may take some time, proving any one of these cases beyond a reasonable doubt would likely give the former prime minister a lengthy jail sentence and put a brutal stop to his political career...

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