MP SPEAKS | The Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision on Friday dismissing former premier Najib Razak’s application for a gag order on the media and public with regard to discussing the merits of his corruption case is in keeping with a new Malaysia, unlike the era before the 14th general election on May 9, 2018 where all the instruments of state were abused to suppress the infamy and ignominy of Malaysia as a global kleptocracy.
Before May 9, all the instruments of state were bent and suborned to keep from the Malaysian public the monstrosity of the criminality and moral turpitude of the international 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal.
Top government officials who refused to aid and abet in the cover-up of the 1MDB scandal like then Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and then attorney-general Gani Patail were either sacked, removed from office or browbeaten into silence.
Government agencies were used to persecute and harass voices that continued to raise questions about the 1MDB scandal, like the censorship of Sarawak Report website and other internet sites, while the mass media was closely monitored to censor all news about 1MDB.
MPs were prohibited from asking questions or pursuing the 1MDB scandal, and I was twice suspended for six months from the 13th Parliament while in the last week of the 13th Parliament, I was treated like a “parliamentary ghost” with the speaker and deputy speakers claiming that they could not see me when I entered the parliamentary chamber.
Judicial independence and professionalism came under threat as legal proceedings were launched to shut out all information about the 1MDB scandal.
In the last meeting of Parliament in March, 2018, Najib rammed through the Anti-Fake News Bill, which was nothing but a 'Save Najib from 1MDB Scandal Bill', to criminalise all news about the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia that was already available worldwide, punishable as fake news with excessive penalties of RM500,000 fine, 10 years' jail or both.
Three events foiled the well-planned scheme of immunity and impunity of the former prime minister, who would otherwise get away with the world’s worst kleptocracy in the international 1MDB money-laundering scandal.
DOJ's fatal blow
The first event was in July 2016 – the kleptocratic litigation of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to forfeit over US$1 billion of 1MDB-linked assets in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland from over US$3 billion international embezzlement, misappropriation and money-laundering of 1MDB funds.
The second was the victory of Donald Trump and defeat of Hilary Clinton in the US presidential election in November 2016, for the campaign that was cranked up by Najib’s highly-paid propaganda advisers to paint the US DOJ kleptocratic litigation as part of an international “liberal” conspiracy (with the support of so-called unpatriotic Malaysians) to topple Najib and the Umno/BN government in Malaysia collapsed with Trump's unexpected victory.
Najib had studiously presented himself as a “golfing buddy” and “favourite prime minister” of Trump, with Najib having a signed photograph of Trump on his desk, and after Trump’s presidential victory, there was speculation that Najib would leverage on his special relationship with Trump to quash or withdraw the US DOJ litigation suit on 1MDB.
But this proved to be futile when in June 2017 (under Trump’s presidency), the US DOJ expanded its 1MDB kleptocratic litigation to forfeit another US$540 million of assets stolen from 1MDB, i.e. US$1.7 billion 1MDB-linked assets from an alleged US$4.5 billion embezzlement of 1MDB funds.
Najib completely misread the system of American democracy and government – that the professionalism of various institutions of government, like the US DOJ, are not affected with the political change of the US president – a necessary check-and-balance mechanism to preserve the independence and professionalism of different national institutions, which is sorely needed in Malaysia.
The third event was the historic and watershed 14th general election on May 9, which brought in a new Pakatan Harapan government in Putrajaya, and enabled Malaysians to learn of the enormity of the criminality and moral turpitude in the 1MDB scandal.
The next step
In Parliament next week, there is a bill to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act, another step to build a new Malaysia, where all the instruments of state must be designed to promote democracy, justice and good governance and not to hide scandalous crimes of corruption, embezzlement and money-laundering like the 1MDB scandal.
On May 9, Malaysians took to the world stage to set the world an example of peaceful and democratic change of government.
We must next take the world stage to show that we are capable of transforming from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity within a short span of time.
LIM KIT SIANG is DAP Iskandar Puteri MP.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.