This could have been a good year, but no thanks to Najib, who has been doing a ‘great’ job in defining this country for all the wrong reasons with his (and her) extravagance, writes Damian Denis.
So, how did Najib define Malaysia in 2015?
Trying to explain his family wealth
First, the prime minister’s office started by trying to defend Najib’s family wealth. The wealth, it was claimed, was in part due to “legacy family assets”. Of course, all of his brothers promptly denied this, saying their father was a highly principled man and “any inference to the contrary would be totally false and misleading to his memory”.
Perhaps Najib or his office knew he had to explain his family’s wealth and come up with something. And so he tried – and in the process, the very person who could not be around to defend himself, was dragged into the saga.
Giving a new meaning to ‘donations’
Second, Najib defined corruption to a totally new level. It was not corruption, you see, but commission (in the Scorpene case) and now a ‘donation’ (RM2.6bn). What else can you expect from Najib, the Prime Minister of Malaysia?
Can you guess what this means? The term ‘donation’ could be further redefined to something new in 2016. Already, there are some signs from WSJ reports recently. I guess you can be charged for corruption in Malaysia, but if it is a ‘commission’ or a ‘donation’, you are off the hook. Let’s wait and see what 2016 brings.
Another interesting moment was at what some perceived as a celebration of corruption during this year’s Umno annual general assembly. We saw how certain leaders were ostracised for speaking up against corruption. But the majority appeared to be blindly giving tacit approval and their blessing to Najib to carry on with his so-called ‘donation’ activities!
Bulldozing oppressive bills through parliament
Third, the return of oppressive laws and the use of parliament to rush through oppressive bills. Even without a two-thirds majority, Najib has been able to bulldoze these laws to be passed without much hassle, let alone a proper debate with plenty of notice.
Not that he needs the two thirds, but imagine if he had such a majority. We would definitely have an even more authoritarian leader. This is something all Malaysians should remember well during the next polls.
Getting Pas to cosy up to Umno
Fourth, Najib has done a great job by breaking up Pakatan and getting Pas to cosy up to Umno. Even Dr Mahathir could not lure Pas during his time. So credit must be given to Najib for being able to do what Mahathir couldn’t. Musa Hitam was right when he said Najib is Mahathir’s best student.
Najib has made ‘great strides’ in emulating the ways of his guru so much so now even his guru is having a tough time keeping up with him! Personally, I hope Pas joins Umno formally, and I shall thank Umno for burying Pas once and for all, when it happens!
Burderning Malaysians with price hikes
And last, the suffering of silent Malaysians. Ordinary Malaysians are feeling the heat from the high cost of living, and Najib appears to have turned a blind eye towards it. I believe the silent majority will not just endure this anymore. The silent majority hold the key to change all these blunders of Najib’s by changing Najib himself. But do we dare to do so in the next polls?
These were the five defining moments of 2015.
Will Malaysia be defined by Najib again in 2016 or do we want to define it ourselves? Many of us have learned our lesson well. It is about time we do what it takes as the politicians have failed us – again and again!
Here we come, 2016, and Happy New Year to all!
Damian Denis is an Aliran executive committee member based in Penang.