Is Umno in a better place after Najib, Rosmah's sentencing?

02 Sep 2022 05:37pm
A man walks past the Umno logo at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur
A man walks past the Umno logo at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur
SHAH ALAM - Will former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's jail sentencing improve Umno's image and chances of winning the coming 15th general elections (GE15)?

National Council of Professors Senior Fellow Prof Jeniri Amir said the situation would take a toll on Umno as it tries to clear those linked to corruption but it depends on how Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) defend the party.

“In Najib's state, for example, they might manipulate the issue to get a sympathy vote for Umno and Najib.

“(However) all these will reduce Umno's chances of winning but at the end of the day, the people are going to vote based on BN, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional's (PN) performance,” he told Sinar Daily.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's (UKM) Professor Kartini Aboo Talib said the clearing of court clusters will boost Umno's image as a political party that exercises and upholds the separation of powers.

“Yes, it will be part of our history and a lesson to everyone that no one is above the law and in this digital world, no one can commit corruption and escape from the law.

“Each and every person linked to corruption are likely to be prosecuted and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is doing a great job,” she told Sinar Daily.

Commenting further, she added that Umno is not a monolithic party although it may appear like one.

“It comprises a heterogeneous subethnic group of Malays with some supporting the court clusters within Umno. Due to that, we have various opinions within Umno.
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"Those who commit any wrongdoing including corruption may not be at ease and will find a way to seek sympathy but concur with the recent decision,” she added.

Is Ismail Sabri's popularity on the rise?

When asked about whether Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob's popularity will rise among Malaysians after Najib and Rosmah goes to prison, she said Ismail Sabri is already popular among the people for his "Keluarga Malaysia" or Malaysian Family concept, anti-hopping laws and he is also the first prime minister to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the opposition.

“He does not need to ride on others,” she said.

On the other hand, lawyer Datuk M Reza Hassan said it is unfair to speculate what will happen to the court clusters because it is up to the evidence presented.

“We can't actually speculate now, it is not proper for us to speculate what would happen to Bung Mokhtar and Zizie Izette.

He also opined that the judiciary system in the country has always been functional and it definitely was not because they recently convicted notable individuals.

“The reason why the cases have been going on for so long is that the evidence needs to be examined, that is why it took quite a little bit of time.

“On average, the timeline is about right,” he said.

When asked whether the court clusters will end this month, he said it is up to the judge as they might need more time to go over the evidence.

Najib is the country’s first former prime minister to be jailed for a criminal offence after the Federal Court here upheld his conviction, 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine on Aug 23.

He still faces four other legal cases involving the misappropriation of RM2.3 billion of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, abusing his power to amend the 1MDB audit report, criminal breach of trust amounting to RM6.6 billion in relation to payments to International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and illegal money laundering involving SRC International funds worth RM27 million.

Meanwhile, Rosmah has been found guilty of all three corruption charges involving the RM1.25 billion solar hybrid energy project for 369 Sarawak rural schools on Sept 1.