No one was surprised at the outrageous judgement today in a Malaysian High Court, which issued a three year jail sentence against one of the country’s most respected and able opposition politicians based on a law that was abolished in 2013.
It makes it an illegal judgement. Yet, Rafizi Ramli was fully prepared for the negative ruling, issuing video statements in both English and Malay in anticipation of being sent to jail on the basis of a law that no longer exists. That is BN’s Malaysia for you, should you choose to become an effective spokesman for the opposition!
This sensationally peculiar ruling was no less outrageous or perverse, of course, than the one that also succeeded in jailing the opposition leader himself, when Anwar’s full acquittal on a criminal charge was immediately and outlandishly appealed by the prosecution. To appeal an acquital in a criminal case is a tactic that the legal system quite rightly completely rules out, unless dramatic new evidence has been discovered at a later stage. This was absolutely not the situation in Anwar’s case, where prosecutors simply appealed the verdict of innocence, there and then, on the basis that it did not suit the Prime Minister.
In similar vein, two days ago, yet another key opposition leader, Tian Chua, was found “guilty” for exclaiming “bastard” and “stupid police” when officers snatched his phone from his hand in a hotel foyer whilst he was using it back in 2014 (they were investigating him for an allegedly ‘seditious tweet’, a charge they later quietly dropped).
Who wouldn’t utter such words or worse under such circumstances? However, the police say their “modesty was insulted” and under Malaysia’s bonkers administration of present justice, the judge agreed. Crucially for the administration, this also disqualifies Tian Chua from running in the election!
Both Rafizi and Tian Chua have been harried and hounded in this manner repeated times by the ruling party and its various tame officials. In his video’d statement Rafizi points out that he has been subject to no less than 13 separate charges since he began campaigning against rampant corruption in high circles since the last election and arrested many times.
Tian Chua has also been forced on numerous occasions to do time in custody and face trials for this and that for being a similarly doughty, brave and able campaigner against corruption.
In the case of Rafizi, as everybody in Malaysia knows, the sin he committed was to expose one of the most outrageous scandals to come to recent light relating to senior figures in the present government, who treat the public coffers as if they are their personal piggy banks from which hundreds of millions can be raided.
The matter was dubbed the National Feedlot Scandal – or more simply Cowgate – after Rafizi revealed that RM250 million of public money was quietly funnelled into a supposed cattle rearing project ‘to feed the poor’ through a company that just happened to be owned by the husband of one of Najib’s most loyal ministers, the hatchet faced Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
Rafizi produced documents to show that whilst the Feedlot project quickly foundered, with barely a cow in sight to help feed the poor, Shahrizat’s husband had been investing in luxury high-end condos designed to accommodate the likes of their super-rich BN cronies. It was those documents that proved Rafizi’s undoing.
Because, as he points out in his video statement, whilst no effort whatsoever has been made to prosecute or hold to account those who managed to lose RM250 of public money meant for the poor, whilst finding plenty of financing to invest in fancy condos, the full force of Malaysia’s legal apparatus was immediately turned against him and his source for revealing banking documents that exposed the scandal.
It is not the only case he is facing prosecution over as a whistleblower. The diversion of millions of ringgit from an army pension to finance land purchases from 1MDB has also caught Rafizi’s ire, quite rightly, and he denounced that fact also. However, the revelation had been made public through a segment of the Auditor General’s report on the billion dollar 1MDB scandal, which ought under the constitution have been classified a public document.
However, in an act of illegality and outrageous abuse of power, Prime Minister Najib had declared the report an Official Secret (after having earlier promised the public that they could rely on it for answers when it was published) meaning that Rafizi was prosecuted for referring to it as evidence to the theft of Armed Forces pension money.
Once again Rafizi stands to be convicted of this ‘crime’ and further jailed, although no effort is being made to prosecute those revealed to have connived at this theft from the old age pensions of service men, who risked their lives to serve their country.
Another opposition political figure facing malicious prosecution for standing up for the public interest is, of course, the DAP leader Guan Eng, persecuted on flimsy grounds for allegedly getting a good deal on his private house purchase.
Meanwhile, Malaysians have been forced to look on as the most gross and greedy crimes of all have rested at the door of their own Prime Minister, who is behind each and every one of these politically motivated prosecutions. Najib plainly has come to the decision that he will use every instrument at his disposal to go after all his political enemies and beat down the opposition so they can’t put forward their leading lights at the next election. Preferably he wants these leading lights and able spokesmen banged up behind bars, so that they can’t campaign at all. However he will have been disappointed that in Rafizi’s case the judge has allowed him to remain free pending an appeal.
Furthermore, by cracking down on ‘whistleblowers’, even if that means resorting to using legislation that no longer exists, Najib hopes to put off anyone else thinking of bringing out further scandals (and there are very many lurking) relating to his termally corrupted administration before polling day.
Other intimidation strategies include planned further censorship laws to encompass individual remarks on social media to silence “Fake News”. This is how Najib plans to win the ‘propaganda war’ – by locking up critics and barring opposition candidates from running.
He plainly thinks this, together with an armoury of cash and other strong arm tactics, will serve to subdue the Malaysian electorate into a resigned relection of himself and his band of BN brothers.
But, maybe Malaysians are made of sterner stuff and more moral fibre? What is clear is that only the people of Malaysia can now take the decision and make the move to intervene and rescue the brave warriors like Anwar, Rafizi, Tain Chua and others who have been willing to sacrifice their freedom to stand up for the public interest and what is right.
They will have to vote against Najib and set such people free once more.