Friday, December 5, 2008

Noose Tightening Around Najib's Fat Neck

Why the hurry when it comes to Raja Petra? Is the unholy haste more about Najib than Raja Petra? Are they hoping that what will be revealed during Raja Petra’s trial will turn out to be the noose around Najib’s fat neck?


by The Pink Panther

They say justice delayed is justice denied. But who says the wheels of justice always move slowly? Justice can sometimes move extremely fast when they want it to - especially when the court case involves Raja Petra Kamarudin - and when it relates to the Altantuya murder.

Raja Petra’s lawyer had not yet walked into his office after their court appearance at the Jalan Duta Court Complex this morning when a fax was waiting for him on his table. And even before he could digest the contents of the fax another fax came in. The Shah Alam High Court will hear the appeal by the Prosecution at 2.45pm tomorrow, Friday, 5 December 2008. So Raja Petra will, again, be in court - tomorrow (5 December) 2.45pm at the Shah Alam court.

This morning, Raja Petra and his lawyers were in court to confirm the date of the appeal on the criminal defamation case. Yesterday, by order of the court, these same lawyers spent eight hours at Bukit Aman for a forensic test on the computers the police confiscated from his house related to the sedition case. And tomorrow is the Prosecution’s appeal on the amendment of the charge on the sedition case.

Wow! Seldom have Malaysians seen the courts move so fast. There are so many court cases going on at the same time that it is beginning to become very difficult to keep track of who is the defender and who is the defendee, and who is the appealer and who is the appealee.

The issues before the various courts are as follows - the Shah Alam court, the Petaling Jaya court and the Kuala Lumpur court. The prosecution tried to amend the charge in Raja Petra’s sedition case in the Petaling Jaya court but the judge turned it down. So the prosecution is appealing the judge’s decision in the Shah Alam court. And that is going to be heard tomorrow at 2.45pm.

Then, the prosecution is not happy that they did not find the evidence of any crime in the two computers the police confiscated - meaning a copy of the article ‘Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell.’ So they asked the Petaling Jaya court for permission to check both computers again in the hope that this time they might find something. They checked the first computer over eight hours in Bukit Aman yesterday and will do a forensic test on the second unit next Tuesday.

Then, Raja Petra’s lawyers are appealing against the decision to transfer the criminal defamation case from the Kuala Lumpur Magistrates Court to the Sessions Court and this appeal was slotted for mention this morning in the Kuala Lumpur High Court. The court ordered Raja Petra’s lawyers to file their submission on 12 December 2008 and for the Prosecution to reply to it on 19 December. The hearing will be on 20 January 2009 when the judge will probably deliver his judgment as to whether the case will be heard in the Sessions Court (as what the Prosecution wants) or whether it has to be sent back to the Magistrates Court (as what Raja Petra wants).

In the meantime, while the Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur courts hear the various appeals and counter-appeals and applications to amend the charge and applications to oppose the amendment to the charge and application to do a second forensic on the two computers and so on and so forth, the hearings related to the crimes Raja Petra has been alleged to have committed are being delayed even further. And this has upset those who walk in the corridors of power.

The Prosecution has been told to wrap up all these many cases as soon as possible, preferably way before March 2009. March 2009 is when Najib Tun Razak is supposed to take over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as Prime Minister of Malaysia. Abdullah wants these cases settled fast but Najib would rather they drag on until way past March 2009.

Abdullah wants all the cases settled now in the hope that damaging evidence will surface during the trial, which will implicate Najib, or at least his wife, in the murder of Altantuya. If this happens, this will disqualify Najib from taking over as Prime Minister. Najib, however, wants things to remain as they are until he takes over so that, when he is already Prime Minister, he can sweep everything under the carpet and suffer no damage.

How he is going to sweep everything under the carpet will be a bridge he crosses when he comes to it. Dropping the charges would be one way or making sure the judge shouts ‘irrelevant’ every five minutes could probably work as well, as it did in Anwar Ibrahim’s trial in 1998-1999.

Raja Petra never dreamt how important his trials were going to be in deciding who would become the Prime Minister of Malaysia come March 2009. Everyone assumed that Najib would automatically be taking over from Abdullah at the ‘agreed’ time. But it appears like nothing has really been agreed yet. And this is troubling Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well who is banking on Najib taking over in March 2009 as planned.

However, according to Murphy’s Law, what can go wrong will go wrong. And the plan for Najib taking over from Abdullah in March 2009 can certainly go wrong. So Abdullah wants to see to it that it will definitely go wrong.

And Mahathir is fully aware of this and he is already lamenting about it even before the plan can be put in place. Call it a preemptive strike if you wish and Mahathir is the master of preemption, amongst other things. So he is preempting Abdullah’s move to block Najib from taking over as Prime Minister in March 2009.

Mahathir realises that you need not be the Umno President to become Prime Minister. Tun Abdul Razak Hussein became Prime Minister without becoming the Umno President, till much later. Mahathir himself stayed on as Prime Minister in 1988 even though be had no party (when Umno closed down) and was an independent Member of Parliament (calun bebas) while Ling Liong Sik was the Barisan Nasional Chairman at that time. In fact, Ghafar Baba became Deputy Prime Minister in 1986 without ever becoming an Umno (Lama) member until Umno Baru was formed in 1988.

Yes, who says you must first become the Umno President or the Barisan Nasional Chairman to become Prime Minister of Malaysia. All the Constitution says is that you must be a Member of Parliament whom, in the opinion of the Agong, commands the confidence of the majority of the Members of the House - in other words, the 222 Members of Parliament.

Let’s say Anwar Ibrahim has the confidence of the 82 Pakatan Rakyat Members of Parliament. This leaves another 140 who are not with Anwar. Then, say, Abdullah has half the 140 with him, meaning 70. This leaves another 70. Let’s also say 20 abstain. This leaves 50. And, say, these 50 are with Najib.

In this case, Anwar Ibrahim has the confidence of the majority because he has 82, Abdullah has only 70, Najib 50, while 20 are ‘sitting on the fence’ and are not supporting any side.

It must be noted that Umno has only 66 Members of Parliament in Peninsular Malaysia. Even if the 13 Umno Sabah Members of Parliament stay united that would come to only 79. Pakatan Rakyat still has more at 82. Abdullah is said to control at least 20 Umno Members of Parliament. So Najib will be reduced to 59 against Pakatan Rakyat’s 82. The question would be: will Abdullah’s 20 remain neutral or will they swing to Pakatan Rakyat to give it 102? Either way, with only 59 Umno Members of Parliament, Najib would be far short and would need the other component members of Barisan Nasional to take the chair as Prime Minister.

MCA (15), MIC (3) and Gerakan (2) total another 20. These three parties plus PPP (which has no Parliamentarians) are totally pissed with Umno. They may not throw their lot behind Pakatan Rakyat but they would certainly stay neutral and become the ‘third force’ or ‘independents’. Though Pakatan Rakyat may not benefit from MCA’s, MIC’s and Gerakan’s 20 seats, neither would Umno, or rather Najib.

Najib would need the 30 non-Umno Members of Parliament from Sarawak and the balance 11 from Sabah (totaling 41) to make up his majority. If they too decide to follow MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP and stay ‘neutral’, then Najib is sunk. His 59 against Pakatan Rakyat’s 82, Abdullah’s ‘neutral’ 20, and the MCA’s, MIC’s, Gerakan’s, Sabah’s and Sarawak’s ‘neutral’ 61, would mean that he does not have the confidence of the majority and the Agong just can’t appoint him as the new Prime Minister.

Yes, many are looking forward to the 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament crossing over to Pakatan Rakyat to give it 112 seats in Parliament (111 of 222 is exactly 50% so it will be 50% plus one seat). But what if they don’t cross over? What if they just remain neutral or leave Barisan Nasional to create an ‘independent third force’? This too would be enough to deny Najib the Prime Ministership. And there is more than one reason for them to want to remain neutral or to leave Barisan Nasional to become a third force.

This is the dilemma facing Najib. And Mahathir is also greatly concerned. They both know that March 2009 is a long way away. And many things can happen from now till March 2009. The non-Umno component members of Barisan Nasional are reevaluating their relationship with Umno. It is no longer a matter of whether to abandon Umno, and in the process abandon Najib as well. Leaving Umno is almost a foregone conclusion. What they are undecided about is whether they should leave Barisan Nasional to join Pakatan Rakyat or leave to become an independent third force. Both have its merits. In Pakatan Rakyat there is good and bad, as an independent third force there is also good and bad. That is what is preoccupying the minds of the non-Umno component members of Barisan Nasional. And the more mistakes Umno makes the more reason for them to proceed with the divorce. And Umno is making mistakes by the dozen these days.

So they want Raja Petra’s various cases in the Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur courts to be settled super-fast. The legal brains are mind-boggled as to how fast the courts seem to move in dispensing with justice when it comes to Raja Petra’s cases, when other cases are sometimes known to stretch over ten or twenty years with no end in sight. Why the hurry when it comes to Raja Petra? Is the hurriedness more about Najib than about Raja Petra? Are they hoping that what will be revealed in Raja Petra’s cases will be the noose around Najib’s neck? I can only speculate on the reason but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.

Sure, Abdullah said that Najib will take over in March 2009. He even did not contest the Umno Presidency and allowed Najib a walkover as part of this plan. But it was not an unqualified assurance. It certainly is subject to certain conditions. And one of those conditions would be that he is free from any legal problems such as being implicated in a murder. The second would be he procures the confidence of the majority of the Members of the House. The failure to fulfill any one of these conditions is enough to disqualify him. And Abdullah has four months to work on the disqualification.

There is no such thing as a sure thing. Najib and Mahathir of all people should know this by now. And who said Abdullah is stupid? He may not be smart but this does not mean he is stupid. And Abdullah may yet prove he is sneakier than most people give him credit for.

I think Malaysians should launch a ‘No to Najib’ campaign. Maybe they should collect 100,000 signatures for a petition to the Agong to appeal to His Majesty not to appoint Najib as Prime Minister in March 2009. Maybe it is not a bad idea after all that Abdullah stays on. At least Pakatan Rakyat can take him on come the next general election in 2012-2013 and finish the job they started on 8 March 2008.

[Portraits of RPK & DSAI courtesy of Knights Templar]