The term Prime Minister is steeped in the history of democracy. It implies a modesty associated with being a servant of the people, who acts merely as the leader amongst a team of advisors elected to guide the Head of State, who in Malaysia is the Agong.
This first minister works within a Cabinet of equals and he or she can certainly be replaced or step down if they feel that, for whatever reason, they are no longer able to perform the duties of office to their maximum ability.
Normally, the office holder is allowed the dignity of submitting their own resignation when it becomes plain that they are damaged or no longer have the sufficient confidence of their party or the country.
David Cameron did exactly this after he lost the referendum on Brexit earlier this year, just months into government after a convincing (and genuine/without rigging) election victory. He realised that for the good of his party it was time to hand on the baton to a leader with hopefully more authority.
Such a sacrifice almost invariably brings the politician concerned a measure of respect, which they would not otherwise have after things have gone wrong.
However, confronted with the consequences of his own fatal mistakes, Najib has taken an opposite approach and clung on to office, come what may. In the process he has demonstrated that he has no sense of his status within a democracy at all.
Caught in a crime that would have caused any Prime Minister worth the title to step aside, he has sought to devise a whole new raft of laws and principles, which he is trying to ram down the throats of his countrymen, purely to save himself from the consequences of his own actions.
In particular, there is his claim that it is somehow unconstitutional for a Prime Minister to be replaced or pressured to resign, unless defeated in an election. This conveniently ignores the fact that he himself pressured and then replaced his predecessor in 2009, just a year after winning an election.
Under Najib’s logic it doesn’t matter what crime he might commit or whether confidence fails entirely both at home and abroad, causing the ringgit to plunge to new lows, he has a personal right to remain in power.
And what level of power that has evolved to become. In Malaysia the ‘Prime Minister’ is no longer the first amongst equals, he is an effective dictator, because he has taken control of everybody else’s job and has started breaking key rules on appointments (in particular the firing and replacing of the Attorney General).
The grandiose posturing and lavish extravagance of this man and his wife, who have appropriated at least two jets for their personal use and spend money (stolen from the public as we now know) like water, are simply not in keeping with the constitutional position of the job. He is strictly not the Head of State.
Yet, Najib now runs the country like his personal fiefdom. He has grabbed the finance portfolio as well as his own. And he has appropriated more and more of the budget, so that the Prime Minister’s private office now accounts for practically half of entire government expenditure.
UMNO’s party hierarchy has been allowing him to do all this and ride roughshod over tendering of contracts and other golden principles, because he has been paying each key place-holder large sums of money stolen from the public purse.
In short, his position is a complete disgrace to the term Prime Minister and bears no semblance whatsoever to the recognised democratic framework of the role. He is no longer running a government, he is running a mafia.
What’s more, as everyone well knows, he didn’t win the election he is harping on about. He cheated in myriad ways, as the clean election movement Bersih has demonstrated time and again, calling for reforms on the practices of vote buying, gross gerrymandering, use of false identities and double voting, ballot box stuffing and all the rest.
It has now been proven beyond all reasonable doubt in the minds of the public (and would also be proved in court of law had he had not illegally vetoed his own arrest and trial) that he stole billions of ringgit of public money, in order to pay for all these gross election frauds.
Yet, he chooses to swan about, as if he had a genuine mandate like other Prime Ministers around the world.
Because everyone knows that Najib is in fact an election cheat and fraud, he naturally views all criticism against him by NGOs, civil society activists and opposition voices, both inside and outside his own party, as extremely dangerous to his position.
Other more credible politicians, who do have genuine mandates, can afford to tolerate verbal attacks, because they know that the majority of people respect them above their critics and can shrug them off.
Najib, by comparison, is weak. He lacks popular respect and his sins are well known. So, he has responded by abusing his excessive powers to try and shut these people up – illegally.
He has spent the last year passing law after law to give him further authority to silence and lock up critics. The National Security Act even enables him to kill anyone he likes with impunity, just in case he feels he needs to. This is not about terrorism it is about terrorising.
Such behaviour comes not from strength (as many like to parrot), it comes from fundamental weakness.
It was weak and fearful to lock up a woman, like democracy campaigner Maria Chin on terrorism charges, which will soon be dismissed as spurious. Maria must be freed, when she is finally allowed to get before a court of law. Meanwhile the mother of three is being disgracefully held in solitary confinement, in a windowless cell with 24 hour lighting.
This desperate man hopes by such thuggish acts to scare and bully people into cowered silence over his own short-comings. He calculates that if he ‘cracks down’ hard enough, eventually he will be able to stop people talking about all the money he has stolen and how he spent it on himself and keeping power.
However, what he needs to face up to is that one mild and proper-minded lady has managed, in the face of naked threats, to raise the support of hundreds of thousands of marchers for reform, whereas he and his all-powerful, wealthy UMNO party only managed to persuade around four thousand paid thugs to counter-march in support of him.
Maria showed Najib up and this is his shameful attempt to pay her back.
People should therefore cease to describe this man, who ought to have resigned and to have probably have been arrested long ago, as “Prime Minister”. He should be referred to more accurately by such terms as “The Fraudster”, “The Office Snatcher”, “The Usurper”, “The Imposter”, “The Pretender”, “The Crime Minister”, “The Tinpot Dictator”, “The Desperate Kleptocrat”, “The Godfather” – until Malaysia has reasserted proper governance, take your pick.
Just don’t besmirch an historic noble office by describing Najib Razak as Malaysia’s Prime Minister.