Anwar says jail likely end of Najib’s political career, but will boost Pakatan’s chances in GE15

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — This week’s Federal Court ruling that sent former prime minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak to jail will give Pakatan Harapan (PH) the fillip at the next general election, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.

The federal Opposition leader, now 75, told business newswire Bloomberg published today that he would campaign on the issue in a vote that could be held as soon as this year, driving the message that Najib's imprisonment is a step in the right path to eradicate corruption and even among the country’s most powerful elites would not be immune to the law.

“This has probably broken the taboo that corrupt leaders would remain untouched,” Anwar was quoted as saying.

“This is a positive development for the opposition to showcase that if you want a clean government, if you want good governance, then this is an opportunity.”

In a watershed moment, a five-judge panel at the Federal Court upheld Najib's conviction and 12-year prison sentence for embezzling RM42 million in funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former 1MDB subsidiary.

Anwar told Bloomberg that he saw the jailing as the end of Najib's political career “for the foreseeable” future, and that the Umno politician is unlikely to get a royal pardon soon given he is still standing trial for charges relating to the 1MDB corruption scandal.

Najib's supporters, still not wanting to believe the former prime minister is guilty, have appealed to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for a royal pardon. Najib began serving time in jail last Tuesday.

But even with Najib’s imprisonment, the disgraced leader is said to remain widely popular and influential in Umno.

Najib loyalists have been pushing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is also currently one of Umno's three vice-presidents, to hold elections as soon as possible.

Yesterday, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Wan Jaafar, the minister in charge of parliamentary affairs, nnounced that the government would table next year's Federal Budget on October 7 instead of October 28 as initially scheduled, fuelling rumours that the 15th general election will be held sometime in the last quarter of this year.

Anwar told Bloomberg that he believes Ismail Sabri would rather call an election later than sooner.

“I’m not sure after this conviction... I don’t think it is going to be that easy to have it early, which means sometime in the first quarter of next year," he was quoted saying then, but appeared to have revised his view this morning.

In a video on his Facebook account today, Anwar said the rescheduled Budget 2023 tabling is a clear signal that GE15 will be held soon.

But whether or not Najib will apply for a royal pardon, and get one, remains unclear. The King was petitioned to pardon Anwar after he was jailed in 2015, but it was rejected.

Anwar was eventually pardoned three years later when his former nemesis Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad led PH to its maiden electoral victory and publicly supported his petition after was ousted in 2018.

The PH chief told Bloomberg that the 15th general election would be his last bid for the prime ministership.

“There is that likelihood because of my age and my confidence that there are five or six leaders emerging,” he was quoted as saying.

“Give a chance to Anwar to prove, and then surrender power to the younger team to continue the mission. I think that’s how I see it.”