The seemingly preposterous idea that the weak-chinned Ismail Sabri has been positioned by UMNO merely to keep the seat warm for the return of their first prime minister to lose an election, Najib Razak, is slowly beginning to gel into a potential reality.
After yesterday’s well-publicised meeting between ‘The Turtle’ and the Kleptocrat, Ismail laughably explained on his Facebook page that Najib had shown willing “to contribute time, energy and ideas” towards Malaysia’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Would this be advice on how to raise more borrowing by the country for UMNO folk to loot? After all, RM60,000 a month in salaries and perks for doing nothing is surely just a baseline, now they are back in power.
The KL rumour machine instantly interpreted the meeting as a signal that not only has Najib now officially restored his position as a key player and decision-maker in the PN 2.0 government, which depends on the support of this convicted criminal, but that he is also poised to be appointed as a Government Economics Advisor (with the full ministerial perks and salary enjoyed by just about every PN MP).
After all, over the past few days the newly-minted prime minister has already re-appointed his other predecessor whom UMNO toppled on the grounds it had lost confidence in his disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic, to be none other than the chairman of a council to manage the pandemic recovery strategy!
So, why not appoint a convicted kleptocrat to oversee the economic side of things?
According to the official statement, trust has now been placed in the ex ‘Lawan PM’ to “achieve the best economic impact and restore the lives of people affected by the pandemic”, despite his previous total failures.
In return, Mahiaddin has naturally been accorded full ministerial status together with the perks totalling the same RM60,000 a month that a swathe of other PN ministers, deputy ministers, advisors and GLC placement have all been helping themselves to since the coup…. without having to account to the suspended Parliament for what they may or may not have done in all that time.
This appointment as ‘Covid Recovery Czar’ comes at a crucial moment in Malaysia, at the height of the out of control pandemic, when it is absolutely vital that the present administration owns up to its appalling failures so far.
Particularly in running a vaccine programme that has seen billions of ringgit diverted into the purchasing of Sinovac at prices way in excess of the market rate when the data was never presented to prove it worked. Sinovac has been registering failures across countries in South East Asia and likewise in Malaysia.
It has today emerged that in the now worst affected state of Sarawak half those who are now dying of Covid have been fully vaccinated – with Sinovac.
Mahiaddin’s ‘Lawan’ administration had purchased Sinovac, early when little available data had been presented, for the same cost as tested vaccines such as Pfizer, known to be over 95% effective. The terms and conditions of these Sinovac deals remain obscure and questionable and with ‘Moo’ put back in charge of such matters they will certainly remain so.
Meanwhile, people in Sarawak have every right to demand how come it was the native people of this state who largely received this safe but largely ineffective drug, when others (such as most MPs, bureaucrats and ‘key workers’ in West Malaysia) happened all to benefit from Pfizer?
As one expert has informed Sarawak Report:
80.2% of vaccine roll out in Sarawak so far has used Sinovac. And 50% of those admitted to hospital are vaccinated (compared to what we would expect in U.K. & US which is around 3-5%). We must ask why in Sarawak are we seeing this huge difference?
A review of the Covid situation in Malaysia therefore ought to make it a PRIORITY to have immediate boosters rolled out across Sarawak of vaccines that are known to work to save further lives amongst people whom PN have plainly discriminated against despite the slavish support of its GPS constituent MPs (all of whom received Pfizer naturally as opposed to Sinovac with CM Awang Johari first in the queue!).
Next, a thorough review of the vaccine procurement process and of where the money went ought to be undertaken. And then an urgent review of the bone-headed quarantine and SOP procedures that have demonstrably INCREASED infections rather than curtailed them as in every other country. Take Sarawak again, where hundreds of un-infected longhouse residents are currently being herded into cramped ‘quarantine centres’ in the state where inevitably they will catch the disease they could have avoided if left sensibly in their rural homes with single cases being removed (see the death-traps here).
Can the dopey and deeply compromised Moo be expected to initiate such a move or will his ‘oversight of the recovery’ result in more chaos and more ‘Lawan’ mismanagement? No prizes for the right answer up front.
However, from Ismail Sabri’s political point of view at least, this canny appointment of the failed leader to oversee his own failures appears to have for now conveniently silenced him on another sensitive matter that was bedevilling the fractious PN 2.0 ‘Unity’ line-up, namely the appointment of UMNO crooks to office.
Moo having been pandered to, it appears Ismail thought better not to dally in breaking the ice on that one. Yesterday it was announced that none other than Ahmad Maslan, currently undergoing a criminal trial for money-laundering, will be serving as a ‘honourable’ Deputy Speaker in the Lower House when not attending his own trial.
Undoubtedly, Ismail will regard the grateful Maslan (full ministerial salary and perks restored) as a very safe pair of hands to manage MPs whenever the toady Art Harun might be out for a long lunch, a chat with the King or discussion with the cabinet.
Malaysians might wish for the long-established convention that Speakers are chosen by the MPs themselves (being the sovereign representatives of the people) rather than acting as a bent referee on behalf of the King’s appointed PM. No chance under PN 2.0.
There has been plenty more pushback than merely all of this during the dizzyingly short period since UMNO’s return to power as PN 2.0, of course. Charges against corruption and misappropriations featuring UMNO cronies have been dropped in all directions and tax violations stunningly forgiven.
In the process the public have been presented with yet another glimpse of the astonishing unexplained wealth of the Najib family, who now seem entirely confident of buying their way back into office, despite the slew of fines and penalties so far imposed but not exacted.
A bizarre decision to return RM117 million found in cash in Najib’s private premises (on the grounds prosecutors ‘could not prove it came from 1MDB’) has alone given the convicted kleptocrat the means to buy no end of crooked paving stones back to power.
He says he was merely guarding ‘donations’ to UMNO in his home, as one does. (A similar excuse has resulted in criminal charges against Muda leader Syed Sadiq for a paltry RM250k). It seems no one has sought to ask Najib to prove these ‘donations’ or discuss the alternative matter of taxation. This concerning a man now proven to have lied about billions in ‘donations’ from 1MDB.
Meanwhile, tax demands and recent settlement attempts have provided another eye-opener into the vast amount of loot accumulated by the Najib family. One of his young and under-employed sons has recently cut a vast tax bill of RM13.6 million to a paltry sum, according to Najib’s own boasts.
Another son has been disappointed so far in seeking to appeal a RM37 million demand in tax arrears as has Najib who is fighting his own RM1.69 BILLION tax bill doubtless to the Federal Court.
How did a sitting prime minister make such money, who knows? Yet, in his hyper-active Facebook account (run by his loyal propagandist of many years, Lim Sian See) Najib amazingly continues to posture as the arch critic of others whom he alleges failed to pay tax (his latest target being the whistleblower Xavier Justo who first exposed his 1MDB thefts).
Daily, the ex-PM treats the Malaysian people to cheeky insults against others on their management of the economy from a man who looted the country and who ought to be in jail, but who sits in Parliament instead and props up PN.
Daily, he criticises others for dishonesty and incompetence and failures, all of which he has performed himself on the grandest scale of all. Luckily he is happy to also turn on his own as well, undermining Ismail’s best efforts to present a united PN front.
In the past hours from his self-deluded bubble this sanctimonious ‘innocent’ has even launched a legal action against his fellow failed former PM, Mahaiddin himself, for having allegedly suggested legal procedures could be interfered with and justice perverted by the new PM Ismail Sabri to get Najib off the hook and out of jail.
Imagine what Malaysians would learn should that one come to court and the three former and present prime ministers were forced to testify on the interfering capabilities of their executive offices on the judiciary of the nation. The trial over the murder of Altantuya would need to be discussed as would the many vindictive actions by the courts against those who have raised concerns about judicial independence.
Thus as fast as Ismail can throw the nation’s money at his squabbling supporters and offer them pardons and all the rest, as fast as the facade of unity undoes.
His two top appointed leuitenants have within hours clashed legal horns with one another over who is the more corrupt, Najib, the courts, the past or present government? So much for a coalition of allies to lead Malaysia’s recovery.
Do Malaysians consider themselves to be in safe hands?