Half-way mark for campaign for Cameron Highlands by-election – will Najib admit that his three greatest failures as sixth Prime Minister was 1MDB scandal, betrayal of the interests of Felda settlers and failure to bring the 200,000 Orang Aslis to the national mainstream of development?

We are now at the half-way mark in the campaign for the Cameron Highlands parliamentary by-election.

Will the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is the main strategist behind the Barisan Nasional by-election, campaigning personally in the by-election and summoning to the electoral battle the old UMNO leaders like former Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hasimmuddin Hussein and the former Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid, the question is whether the by-election would mark Barisan Nasional’s rise from the ashes of its defeat in the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, and prepare for Najib’s political comeback in the 15th General Election by 2023 as the Prime Minister to save him from imprisonment in Sungai Buloh Prison.

I must confess I was quite unsure at first how to present Najib’s kleptocracy and the 1MDB scandal as among the key issues in the by-election, until the UMNO/BN strategists and cybertroopers providentially came to the rescue.

By stupidly focusing on the wholly legitimate and legal reimbursement of RM20 to some 60 Orang Asli youths who came out from the remote Orang Asli kampongs in their motor-bikes to Tanah Rata to support Pakatan Harapan on by-election’s Nomination Day, the Barisan Nasional strategists and cybertroopers had unwittingly focussed the by-election on the issues of clean and honest politics, good governance, the battle against corruption and most important of all, the 1MDB scandal.

Pakatan Harapan must thank the Barisan Nasional strategists and cybertroopers for this help and leg-up in the first few days of the campaign.

But the greatest bonanza was the public apology by the Goldman Sachs Group Inc chief executive officer David Soloman on the third day of the by-election to the people of Malaysia for its role in the 1MDB scandal.

US prosecutors last year charged two former Goldman bankers for the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB. Tim Leissner, a former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

This completely unexpected apology from Goldman Sachs had taken Najib by surprise, and caused him to “cross the Rubicon”, admitting for the first time that the 1MDB scandal was a national catastrophe but maintaining that the blame for the 1MDB scandal cannot be pinned on him as it was a systemic failure involving Goldman Sachs which had been paid an “exorbitant fee”!

But Najib could not evoke any sympathy or pity from the public as it was Najib who was himself responsible for approving Goldman Sach’s “exorbitant fees” totally US$600 million, which was completely unheard of and unprecedented!

Najib is not a victim of the system, but the very person responsible for the system resulting in the monstrous and heinous 1MDB scandal which became the largest kleptocratic scandal handled by the US Department of Justice and the victims were not Najib and his Minsiters but the 32 million Malaysians!

How can Najib claim innocence and a victim of a systemic failure when in the two years after the US Department of Justice filed its largest kleptocratic litigation to forfeit US$1.7 billion out of US$4.5 billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland and the criminal proceedings against several bankers in Singapore linked to the international 1MDB corruption and money-laundering, Najib and his Cabinet Ministers as well as the political leaders of the 13-party Barisan Nasional continued to close their eyes, shut their ears and run away from the truth?

The Cameron Highlands by-election has taken on a special character – whether it could be the vehicle through which Najib could eventually escape any imprisonment in Sungai Buloh Prison and even return as the Prime Minister in the 15th General Election if Najib could succeed in his game-plan beginning with the Cameron Highlands by-election.

Will Najib admit that his three greatest failures as sixth Prime Minister was 1MDB scandal, betrayal of the interests of Felda settlers and failure to bring the 200,000 Orang Asli to the national mainstream of development?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri