Former prime minister Najib Razak has been instrumental in Anwar Ibrahim’s latest plan to topple the government, MalaysiaNow can now reveal, in a development that could see the two former Umno poster boys coming together to dismantle a common hurdle to their personal and political futures.
A highly placed source in PKR familiar with the relationship between the two leaders said Najib, whose family’s political influence in Pahang ensured the state’s resistance to the tsunami against him in 2018, had fully backed Anwar’s move to seek an audience with Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
The source said the duo had been in contact “for some time”.
“But the discussions became more active at the end of July,” the source told MalaysiaNow.
This was about the same time that Najib was convicted of all charges related to some RM42 million from a 1MDB-linked firm in his personal bank accounts, the first of several corruption cases faced by the former leader.
The revelation comes as Anwar prepares to meet the Agong on Tuesday, where he said he would furnish proof of having a “formidable” majority to bring down Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government.
Muhyiddin was sworn in by Sultan Abdullah after a series of interviews with the 222 MPs following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition in February.
The king later declared that Muhyiddin, with Umno’s en bloc backing as well as that of GPS and PAS, had secured the confidence of the majority to form the government.
But Muhyiddin has since been attacked by PH leaders as a traitor to the people’s mandate, with many accusing him of forming a backdoor government of “kleptocrats”, a reference to Najib and several Umno leaders slapped with dozens of corruption charges.
Najib’s conviction on July 28 of all charges related to SRC International, the source said, was the “clearest proof” that his decision to give his former deputy Muhyiddin the numbers for the Perikatan Nasional alliance “had not been reciprocated”.
“So what we have here is friends with benefits.”
“When Muhyiddin is seen as steering clear of Najib’s case, the latter is left with no choice but to find someone who has a history of seeking alliances,” the source said.
That someone is Anwar, who said he once rejected Najib’s gesture of joining hands with him to form the government following Barisan Nasional’s (BN) loss of majority to PH.
“What Anwar could offer Najib now, assuming through a rare stroke of luck that he becomes the prime minister, is to ensure that Najib remains out of prison,” the source told MalaysiaNow.
“So what we have here is friends with benefits,” the source quipped. “Najib is fighting to stay out of prison, Anwar is fighting to become PM. They need each other, and that explains Anwar’s confidence.
“Remember, politicians are united more by a common hatred than a common vision. In this case, both Anwar and Najib hate Mahathir, the man responsible for crippling their political fortunes,” the source added.
Najib, who has been sentenced to 12 years’ jail and fined RM210 million for the seven charges of abuse of power, breach of trust and money laundering, is appealing against his conviction.
He had several times confirmed contacting Anwar on the night of the 2018 general election, when his BN government could not obtain a majority to remain in power.
“All this while, I have been communicating with him. Mostly to ask how he was personally, among others,” he said in November 2018.
Anwar meanwhile said he had rejected Najib’s overtures on May 9 to join hands against Mahathir. Several days later, Anwar, who was serving a five-year sentence for sodomy, was released from prison after receiving a royal pardon backed by Mahathir.
‘PR work before royal audience’
Meanwhile, a source in Umno said Najib was out to ensure that Anwar had enough numbers before his audience with the Agong on Oct 13.
“And it does not necessarily need for Najib to be on Anwar’s list,” it added.
The source added that Anwar had been told “to act with caution in the run-up to his palace appointment”, with close advisers counselling him on “the correct statements”.
“So when Anwar released a message to commemorate World Mental Health Day yesterday, it was a PR stunt at work to score points on an issue that is close to the royal household,” the source said.
Mental health is an issue championed by none other than Tengku Puteri Iman, the daughter of Sultan Abdullah, who was named the international patron for World Mental Health Day by the World Federation for Mental Health.
But Sultan Abdullah’s scrutiny of MPs during the February crisis showed that the monarch might not be swayed by politicians’ PR gestures.
“It was perhaps the first time that lengthy and in-depth interviews were held by a ruler, despite the urgency to form a government,” said one observer.
Reunion of the ‘Wawasan trio’
Meanwhile, none other than Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing 47 corruption charges, has been seen as supportive of the collaboration between the two politicians.
“Zahid is just a henchman, once to Anwar, then to Najib. And both leaders are still his boss,” the same Umno source told MalaysiaNow.
Najib and Zahid were part of the so-called Team Wawasan, which sought to propel Anwar into power when the trio were together in Umno in the mid-1990s.
The source said Najib and Zahid would arrange for support from “a group of Umno MPs” facing a fate similar to theirs in court.
“Muhyiddin has either refused, or was unable, to help secure their freedom. So they are left with no choice.”
Umno MPs such as Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, Ahmad Maslan and Bung Moktar Radin are all facing corruption charges.
On Friday, MalaysiaNow reported that DAP leaders had made it clear that they would shun any coalition with Umno MPs involved in corruption cases.
Analysts said that by doing so, DAP could continue playing its role as a strong opposition without risking its support from Chinese voters whose overwhelming vote against BN in 2018 caused Najib’s fall from power.