Najib could rise back to the top of politics if he wins appeal: Experts

29 Jul 2020 / 08:02 H.

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak may have been convicted for corruption but analysts have warned against writing him off for good.

He may yet rise again in politics if he can get the court decision reversed on appeal, they said.

As Universiti Malaya socio-political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi pointed out, Najib’s influence over the conservative Malay community is still strong.

Najib, who is MP for Pekan, was found guilty on seven charges linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal yesterday.

He was convicted on one count of abuse of power three of criminal breach of trust and three of money laundering.

Hundreds of supporters thronged the grounds of the court complex in Kuala Lumpur to await the verdict yesterday, lending credence to Awang Azman’s assessment of his power base.

Najib is the first person to be convicted for crimes linked to 1MDB. He faces more charges and is scheduled to go on trial again next year.

The reaction to his conviction has been mixed. As expected, his supporters decried the verdict but politicians and civil society groups rejoiced, with many saying that justice has been served.

Awang Azman pointed out that the appeal process could take years, “maybe even until the next general election”.

He said if Perikatan Nasional (PN) wins the election, the prime minister’s job will return to Umno.

“That is when Najib can rise again. If he wins in his appeal, he can be active in politics again,” he told theSun.

Another political analyst, Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, said it is still too early to say that this is the end of Najib’s political career.

“He will keep fighting to clear his name.

“How? I’m not sure ... but he will do it.

“There are many processes in court that he has to go through.”

Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism is one of many parties that saw Najib’s conviction as just.

“History has been created. Never before has a former (Malaysian) prime minister been charged and convicted for corruption, and on seven counts at that,” its director Cynthia Gabriel said.

“While he has the right to appeal, this verdict has demonstrated that corruption has reached the highest level of power,” she said.

National Patriots Association director of public relations Kapt Dr Wong Ang Peng said his organisation lauds the decision of the judge.

“We are very happy to hear of the guilty verdict. It goes beyond doubt that we have principled judges.”

Former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Latheefa Koya tweeted: “Justice is done”.

“We can all be grateful to the MACC officers who risked themselves and investigated the case even while Najib was still in power,” she said.

The Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council said the court’s decision was a giant victory for the public.

“This court process would not have started if the rakyat did not rise up during the 14th general election,” it said in a statement signed by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Among others who also lauded the court decision were Penang PKR liaison vice-chairman Jason K.L. Ong, Klang MP Charles Santiago and Sungai Buloh MP Sivarasa Rasiah.

Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki pointed out that Najib could still appeal the verdict at the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

Bar Council president Salim Bashir urged the people to respect the due process as it is part and parcel of the justice system.

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