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Malaysia could inspire other Asean countries in terms of freedom

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Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s banter against Najib Razak whom he called a ‘kleptocrat’ came with promises his government will move forward with a comprehensive plan that could upgrade Malaysia’s anti-graft rating.

Saying he is unperturbed by the sudden rise in popularity of his predecessor, ex-PM Najib Razak, the Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the latter’s popularity is due to the Pakatan Harapan’s practice of freedom of expression.

It thus appears that Malaysia may altogether rise as the country with greater freedom of expression than any of the Asean countries, giving the country a completely new image.

But it still has a long way to go to become the champion of liberty and justice against kleptocrats and their henchmen and women.

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Nevertheless, Malaysia has the moral responsibility to act wisely and justly in its attempt to clean the country of financial crimes.

Whether this will impact on the Asean or on other Asean member states may depend on how successful the country is in implementing its national anti-corruption agenda (recently adopted by the government) and whether the justice system is squeaky clean.

Amid a rise in calls to arrest Najib Razak for treason (over the massive loss of funds in the 1MDB scandal), the Pakatan Harapan government is being forced to hurry the crucifixion of the ex-PM.

This is where the PH has to remain true to its agenda of change in the country. Letting Najib play his game while he hopes he can become the beloved PM again, is part of the deal.

And this is what was promised in the run-up to the GE14 campaign in Malaysia when the PH anointed Dr Mahathir as the Prime Ministerial candidate against Najib in May last year.

It is this absolute freedom for the new opposition to imposing itself democratically that is at play.

It does not matter how much irritation is caused by Najib’s running around mocking the PH regime and gaining traction among Malays, in particular, it will take, but the PH must uphold the principles of the freedom of the judiciary first.

Many believe AllNajib has been treated with soft gloves so far, while others were given harsher treatment for lesser criminal offenses and this has caused a rise in popular calls to get Najib behind bars – forcefully.

Nevertheless, some analysts are predicting that Najib will walk free in the end. They assure their readers the ex-PM will find his way out of the mess since the cases stacked against him will take years and will outlive Dr Mahathir’s tenure in office.

They are predicting that Anwar Ibrahim, the PM-in-waiting, will eventually seek the pardon for Najib even if the latter is found guilty by the courts.

This is the type of situation that Malaysia should avoid in the future, as it will destroy the faith in the rise of a nation that believes in trust, justice and punishment for the many perpetrators of crime from the previous regime.

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