MARCH 11 — Does it matter anymore whether Shahrizat Jalil resigns or if Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak allows her senatorship to lapse in a month’s time and by doing so hope that the stench of dung from the National Feedlot Corporation not stain his government and Umno?
It does not. In fact, the PM’s response or for that matter Umno’s response to this wanton abuse of public funds stopped being of any consequence months ago.
If I had to hazard a guess, what Najib or Muhyiddin or Ibrahim Ali said about the NFC stopped being of any weight around the same time they did NOT show any indignation at the way RM250 million was abused by the family Shahrizat to do nearly everything except fatten cattle.
Let us just take a step back and juxtapose the NFC scandal into our work or family setting. Would we respect our bosses at work if they tried to cover up wrongdoing and they procrastinated taking any action against a relative until it was impossible to ignore his/her transgression?
On a much smaller scale, would we look with same respect at our parents or grandparents if they tolerated wrongdoing in our families and only moved to act when it became impossible to keep the lid on the family’s dark secret?
My guess is that in both circumstances — at work place and in family setting — we would be disappointed at the lack of principled position taken by the people in power and standing. This inability to do the right thing at the right time has stained Najib and his government for a long time.
It is a DNA flaw, the un willingness to act swiftly because it is the correct thing to do, the principled thing to do.
Instead, everything about this PM and Umno has a political calculation. This NFC scandal broke more than four months ago.
During this time, Khairy Jamaluddin has defended the purchase of the condominiums; Muhyiddin has defended the viability of the feedlot, Noh Omar was sparing with the truth when he told Parliament that a committee jealously guarded the disbursement of the RM250 soft loan (he should be hauled up for not telling the truth).
Najib has been Najib, hoping that by keeping silent on this issue people will forget that he chaired the committee which approved this wobbly scheme.
There has zero leadership on this issue, even as every tawdry detail of how our money was used by this family to boost their property portfolio.
The MACC probe is a joke, it is designed to give Shahrizat the all clear, which it will do soon.
The police have had to play volleyball with the Attorney-General over the investigation papers.
But now with elections on the horizon, Najib has to do something. If he allows her senatorship to lapse next month, it will give him the preferred option of gaining something with least investment.
But the problem of course is that most Malaysians are dumb like Umno members and they will ask this question: if her senatorship was not renewed, that means Najib found that she was tarred by this scandal. And if she was tarred, why didn’t he do the right thing and drop her earlier?
The second option is that Shahrizat will be persuaded to resign in a couple of days and some members of the NFC family will be charged and Najib will gleefully claim a closure to the episode.
And the sad part will be that he and Umno will actually believe that they acted in a principled and just manner and that this whole NFC mess will fade from memory.
The simple fact is that the Najib government is ready to sacrifice Shahrizat and her family NOW because it is politically expedient to do so. They still DO NOT know why everyone was making a fuss about abusing the RM250 million and they never will.
* Othman Wahab reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.