Najib cannot be more wrong when he claimed that the Election Court had declared that RM20 “petrol money” was bribery but even more important what are Najib’s motives for such a bizarre claim

Former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, cannot be more wrong when he claimed that the election court had declared that RM20 “petrol money” was bribery but the even more important questions are Najib’s motives for such a bizarre claim.

Is it to ensure a new culture of integrity and zero tolerance for corruption in Malaysia or is it to frustrate such an effort?

One must admire Najib’s impudence and temerity for trying to use RM20 “petrol money” for Orang Asli to whitewash his RM50 billion 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal and kleptocratic premiership, but faced with 39 criminal charges (undoubtedly with more criminal charges to come) and accused of siphoning off billions from 1MDB, what has Najib got to lose in adopting the most bizarre diversionary tactics?

Already, the new MCA President, Datuk Wee Ka Siong, had already fallen hook, line and sinker for this gambit as evidenced from his statement after a dialogue session with the Barisan Nasional candidate Ramli Mohd Nor in Brichang on Sunday.

Wee worked himself up into a hysteria over the reimbursement of RM20 each to some 60 Orang Asli motorcylists while remaining blind and unconcerned to the monstrous RM50 billion 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal of Datuk Seri Najib Razak!

Can I remind Wee that RM20 each is legitimate reimbursement for some 60 Orang Asli motor-cyclists who came out from remote Orang Asli kampongs especially from the Jelai area to Tanah Rata on Saturday for Nomination, while the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal is not legitimate at all, as it is theft, corruption and daylight robbery of the people’s money!

Can I also remind Wee that RM50 billion is 2.5 billion times more than RM20 – a classic case of MCA blindness to kleptocracy, immorality and wrongdoing in Malaysia, the real reason why MCA was virtually wiped out in the 14th General Election and reduced from a 7/11 political party in the 13th General Election to a mosquito party with only one MP?

Did the Election Court decide that “petrol money” was bribery?

It was fortunate that Najib did not study law or he would have failed his law examinations as he seemed unable to understand the simplest logic in legal arguments and judgements.

Deliberately or otherwise, Najib had misquoted and distorted the judgement of the election judge Justice Azizah Nawawi who declared the Cameron Highlands election in the 14th General Election null and void in claiming that she had said in her judgement that “money” whether as “duit rokok” or “duit minyak” constituted bribery.

She did not make such ruling.

In actual fact, the election judge said in her judgment:

“62. There is a pattern of giving money to the voters, during the crucial period before the election, which to me can only mean to induce the elector to vote. The money was given when the Respondent (former MP C. Sivaaajh) and the Dato’ Wan Rosdy were actively campaigning in the said areas under the BN banner. Added to that, the evidence of PW10 and PW11 shows that they had received the money together with the voting slips with BN logo, and this was confirmed by the Respondent’s witness, RW3 who had admitted that BN did distribute the slips. To me, it is clear that these surrounding circumstances led me to the inevitable conclusion that the money was given to induce the voter to vote.

“63. Therefore, it does not matter if the Respondent say that the money was given as ‘duit rokok’ or as travelling allowances for the Batin to attend the meeting with the Respondent and Dato’ Wan Rosdy, as these are merely to disguise the real intention for the giving of money before the election.”

What the Election Court judge said and implied is very clear except to Najib and his cronies.

She said that money used to induce voters to vote for anyone political party is bribery, even if claimed to be “duit rokok” or “duit petrol”, but otherwise if used legitimately in the election campaign not meant to induce the voter to vote.

In the relevant case of the Cameron Highlands election in May 2018, Sivararrajh and Wan Rosdy visited Pos Lenjang on 6.5.2018 by a helicopter and distributed RM25,000 to the Batins to distribute to all voters in their respective villages, while each Batin received RM200.

It must have been quite a smoking session in Pos Lenjang last May – spending RM25,000 for “duit rokok”!

Why is Najib jumping into the fray in Cameron Highlands by-election with the fictitious claim that the Election Judge had ruled that RM20 petrol money is bribery?

There are three reasons:

Firstly, to divert attention as to why the Cameron Highlands by-election was held, i.e. because of money politics and corrupt electoral practices.

Secondly, to distract attention from current Barisan Nasional campaign to use money politics and corrupt electoral practices to win the Cameron Highlands by-election.

Thirdly, to use the Cameron Highlands by-election as a platform to legitimise Najib’s kleptocratic rule and in particular to “whitewash” the international 1MDB scandal.

Suddenly, the Cameron Highlands by-election has taken on not only national significance but international importance, as Najib wants the Cameron Highlands by-election to be a referendum on whether he is a thief and a kleptocrat!

Let me say that if Najib wants to make the Cameron Highlands by-election a referendum on whether he is a kleptocrat and whether the 1MDB scandal was an act of national betrayal on his part, let him first come clean on the 1MDB scandal and other 1MDB-line scandals in FELDA, Felcra, MARA and Tabung Haji.

Former MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek is on public record as saying that before the 13th General Election, Najib made an unprecedented pledge at a Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting to fund BN component parties.

Chua said: “I must admit, during the BN supreme council meeting approaching the May 5 general elections, he (Najib) in his capacity as prime minister and BN chairperson, did reveal that in that election, BN will support its component parties’ finances.

“I remembered clearly, I was the first to thank him.

“I said that I have joined politics for more than 20 years and gone through five general elections, (we) have never received a single sen from BN before.

“So everyone agreed and many thanked him. When the election came, he delivered - he was able to disburse some funds (to the component parties).”

Let Najib make a clean breast of how much millions he gave to each BN party and politician for the 13th General Election.

In his Opinion piece “A different type of ‘Operasi Lalang’?”, Malaysiakini columnist Nathaniel Tan wrote he was “a little disappointing to see someone with the stature and overall commitment to the integrity of Lim Kit Siang” said he had checked with other DAP leaders present at the dialogue with Orang Aslis where PKR Senator Bob Manolan Mohd had made a controversial statement, and confirmed that there were no threats to the Batins if they do not vote for Pakatan Harapan.

PKR Vice President Tian Chua has apologised on behalf of his party for “unintended careless statements” made by PKR Senator Bob Manolan while Bob Manolan had himself apologised for “excessive” remarks.

Why did I phoned DAP leaders who were present at the dialogue, namely the MP for Raub and Deputy Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji, the MP for Bentong, Wong Tak, Sabah Senator Adrian Lasimbang and Selangor State Assembly woman Young Syefura top ask on what actually happened, at the dialogue at Pos Betau and whether there was any threat to the Tok Batins for not voting for Pakatan Harapan.

And if there were threats to the Batins, why were there applause from the Orang Asli when Bob Manolan spoke?

PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and the DAP Secretary-General and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had swiftly declared that there is no coercion in democracy and that the Batins will continue to receive their salaries as there should be no threat and no intimidation in the Cameron Highlands by-election.

Manolan could not have really threatened the Batins that they their salaries will be stopped if they do not vote for Pakatan for the simple reason that Batins are not appointed by the Federal Government but by Adat Orang Asli.

Bob made the “unintended careless” statement, not during his speech at the dialogue, but during the question-and-answer session as he was asked who paid the salaries of Batins, as they had understood from the Pahang Mentri Besar that the salaries of Batin come from the State Government and not the Federal Governhment, and they should therefore do the bidding of the State Government.

All Orang Ali voters must be able to freely vote for the party of their choice, whether Batins or ordinary villages – and what we want is to create an atmosphere where such fair, free and clean elections by the Orang Asli voters can take place.

But this is not the case in the Orang Asli kampongs, where the majority of Orang Asli voters are subjected to Barisan Nasional’s politics of fear and money – to the extent that only four out of 18 Batins turned up at the dialogue in Pos Betau with Pakatan Harapan leaders.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri