Be charitable, it’s Ramadhan

Umno’s impatience with its current partners in the govt for not freeing Najib may result in another political upheaval in the near future 

WE HAVE now entered the second half of Ramadhan and for most Muslims, fasting has become such a routine that it is now an afterthought. 

Physically the body has adapted and has learned to cope with the demands of going about our daily business without the breakfasts and coffee breaks. Our biological clock has also made changes to accommodate drastically different meal and sleeping times. 

Spiritually, for the most part, some of us are patting ourselves on the back for having successfully overcome numerous temptations and refraining from being our normally cynical selves, being kind to fellow humans and giving them the benefit of the doubt, even if they claimed to have walked 313km in a couple of days, like this taxi driver Norazlan Ismail for example. 

As a rule, I don’t care if someone wants to claim that he ran the marathon or climbed Everest without proof. Having been on this earth for more than 60 years, I’ve heard them all, and power to you if that floats your boat. 

However, I am mildly annoyed that the politicians are selling Norazlan’s story for political reasons and insulting our already battered intelligence at the same time. 

The peak of the farce was when Norazlan, who had just finished walking 313km and sleeping rough on the road for seven days (or is it 3, or 5 days) non-stop, appeared in the company of Opposition officials at Istana Negara in a dapper suit (which he said was donated by a kind couple along his epic journey) none the worse for his walk. 

But in my state of higher charity during Ramadhan, this didn’t even bother my fasting calmness. 

However, sometimes God sends tests for those who think they have it easy to behave during Ramadhan. In my particular case, this test comes in the form of people still trying to free (Datuk Seri Mohd) Najib Razak from his jail sentence of 12 years after a trial that seemed to me to have given him all the privileges that were due to him, and then some.

Since his conviction and sentencing, Najib’s lawyers have been allowed to explore all the nooks and crannies of the justice system for a loophole that would let their client off. 

He has never been seen in handcuffs nor neon orange and prior to his appeal being denied, never spent a day in jail. 

He had also been allowed to file a judicial review of his conviction, which was also denied with a 4-1 majority last week. 

But now, there is a campaign to discredit the judge, with a name almost similar to the taxi-driver marathon walker, who had convicted him of graft in the SRC International (Sdn Bhd) case. 

Najib was found to have money transferred to his account from SRC, a former unit of 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd). 

Concurrently, advertisements have sprouted like mushroom after rain, inviting people to petition a Royal pardon for Najib, even though, at six months into his sentence, he has barely warmed his accommodations at whatever prison he is serving his sentence now. 

Now all this enthusiasm to expiate Najib is nothing new, especially when it is driven by his band of merry followers and rent-a-crowds. 

So despite the strong advisory to be charitable when it comes to human motivations, all this chatter points to something brewing as we look toward the end of Ramadhan and the beginning of state elections after. 

it is no secret that the leaders of Umno, which is the senior partner in the current mixed government, want Najib freed. 

The party’s Supreme Council announced last Friday that it is asking the King to pardon Najib and was seeking an audience as soon as possible. 

In fact, even a Cabinet Minister from Umno, (Datuk Seri) Azalina Othman Said, formally told Najib’s lawyers that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) found that Judge Nazlan 

Ghazali had issues of wrongdoings and urged the Chief Justice (CJ Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat) to reconsider the verdict of the Federal Court to uphold Najib’s conviction. 

The CJ rightly pointed out that the MACC had overstepped its area of operations in conducting a probe in the first place. 

Why this is important is that Umno seems impatient that Najib is still behind bars despite their best efforts, and they are not happy that their partners in government are not doing anything more concrete about it. 

Now, this impatience is surely pointed at Umno’s current partners in government, PKR and (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim, and when that happens in a coalition government, you know we the people are about to go through some political upheavals in the near future. 

The fact that the Prime Minister (PM) has vowed no interference in the judiciary process is not taken as an excuse by Umno because, you know, who pays attention to promises anyway, right? 

This disregard to match words with deeds has been embedded in our politics for a long time and rarely are politicians taken to suffer the consequences of their words. 

However, although there is a low probability that the rakyat will remember broken words, it is never zero. 

Sometimes we remember, you just don’t know which election. 

  • ZB Othman is an editor at The Malaysian Reserve. 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition