With his comments on ex-PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today, Najib Razak, the fallen PM in the 2018 electoral catastrophe, drew attention.
This came after Mahathir made a remark on the Johor elections in which he referred to Najib as a kleptocrat who is attempting to clear his name by having Umno win the elections.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Najib expressed his displeasure with Mahathir’s statements, writing, “Eh, he’s (Dr Mahathir) back (mentioning) my name.” That indicates that he has fully recovered.”
Najib’s post on Mahathir received nearly 8,500 reactions in 45 minutes.
After losing power, Najib, who goes by the moniker Bossku, became an internet sensation in Malaysia.
Despite the various charges and scandals levelled against him, Bossku has given him a fresh shine and helped him acquire support.
Since the 1MDB controversy broke out in 2013, Mahathir, who has neglected to update his site Chedet.cc, which includes an article titled Najib as the most recent entry since Jan 6, has made the latter his priority.
Mahathir’s party, Pejuang, is standing alone in the Johor elections, pitting itself against the government coalition, which counts Najib as a superstar, and the struggling opposition Pakatan Harapan, which he led until February 2020.
Since the outbreak of the 1MDB scandal, Mahathir and Najib have been at war with each other, resulting in Najib losing power and being charged with the largest corruption case in Malaysian history.
Last year, in the SRC International case, Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption and abuse of power. The SRC case is connected to the billion dollar 1MDB scandal.
Dr Mahathir issued a message to Johor voters on Tuesday afternoon, stating that the outcome of the next state election will have far-reaching consequences.
He stated that the poll was staged by an Umno group known as the “court cluster” in order to boost Barisan’s popularity ahead of the 15th General Election.
Members of the Umno court cluster, according to Dr Mahathir, will not run in the Johor election.
Dr. Mahathir announced that his party, which has the full name Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, would run in the state election and urged residents to vote for it.
“So that if they win in the coming general election, they can use their position to resolve cases of abuse of power, stolen public funds and assets,” he wrote.
“But those who contest under Umno and Barisan will give strength to the ‘court cluster’ and kleptocrats.”
“I will write again to everyone, God willing,” he added.
On Facebook, Najib has 4.6 million followers, while on Twitter, he has 4.2 million. No other politician in the country has such a large following.
After losing the elections, Najib had only himself to defend. He was no longer required to defend the entire administration and its policies. As a fallen PM facing the 1MDB scandal on his own, he prepared a long term strategy.
He did, however, succeed in shifting the blame for all the wrong doings in the country to the Pakatan Harapan regime.
He also succeeded in getting the support of a large segment of the population who believe him when he says the PH government is betraying the nation.
They began a witch hunt against him, he claims, while failing to apprehend Jho Low, whom he initially said was the mastermind behind the 1MDB scandal.
After losing the SRC International lawsuit, he has turned his attention on Zeti Aziz, the former Governor of the Malaysian Central Bank, Bank Negara. Najib claims Zeti gave him permission to create a personal account to accept funds from 1MDB.
His followers are spreading the rumour that Zeti was aware that Najib got RM2.6 billion in his personal account at AmBank.
He was able to persuade the people that Mahathir and his family had profited themselves by stealing billions of dollars from the government.
To get further support, he went to a mosque and said a few Arabic sentences, which he claims dispels any concerns about the 1MDB affair.
While these are unfathomable, it is his continual denial that has made him famous among a part of the Malaysian population. Despite the fact that his sentence was upheld by the courts in December of last year, he never acknowledged to the crime.
But what made him so popular in the first place? At one point, he was perhaps a despised leader and he lost the elections. According to The Independent, Najib’s popularity stems from the fact that other leaders are unpopular.
“He is popular because others are not popular. The people are in need of a popular and strong leader to represent them. They find it in Najib Razak, not in others,” says the analyst who runs a private college in Riau, Indonesia.
The expert, who holds a Malaysian PR, also claims that the public is oblivious to all of Najib’s corruption allegations.
Despite the court battles and the fact that he has been chastised by judges, Najib’s followers continue to dismiss all allegations of corruption against him.
“Corruption is money that is not visible in the eyes of the people. Thus the people do not care. They need something to go on with their lives and this is what Najib offers, that is iff there is an attractive offer from a leader, anyone will accept it easily,” he says.
Mahathir’s last ditch effort
Before falling ill and being sent to hospital, Mahathir wrote on his blog that Najib is skilled at shifting topics when he is attacked.
He claims that the latter would blame him of all crimes and losses incurred by Malaysia’s central bank under Mahathir’s presidency in the 1990s.
Rather of responding to the allegations in a way that would exonerate him, Mahathir claims Najib would say things like “all Prime Ministers would do the same thing” as he did when he was Prime Minister.
Mahathir is working hard to reclaim his position in the Pakatan Harapan coalition, where he still has widespread support.
The opposition coalition’s leader, Anwar Ibrahim, is Mahathir’s lone roadblock to rejoining the PH.
Supporters are pressuring Anwar to reject Mahathir’s proposal for a united opposition front capable of defeating Najib once more.
This is a significant setback for Mahathir in his battle with Najib. And his party’s participation in the Johor election demonstrates that he is still seeking to convince the PH that he is a valuable opposition figure.
If Mahathir’s party, or the Muda party of ex-Sports Minister Syed Sadiqq, wins some seats in Johor, it will be a negotiating point for Mahathir to rejoin the PH.
This is certain since Anwar Ibrahim’s Keadilan has been losing ground since 2018, and if the party fails to do well in Johor, Mahathir would push for a re-united opposition front led by him.