Many years from now, students of political science will be able to learn about Najib Razak’s manoeuvres over the last year in a case study aptly titled, “How not to topple the government”.
For months leading up to Muhyiddin Yassin’s resignation, Najib had been crooning about how to manage the Covid-19 crisis and how the government’s handling of the unprecedented global pandemic that had brought the most advanced nations to their knees was an abject failure, or in his own words, “gagal segagal-gagalnya”.
Today, as the nation witnesses the return of the Perikatan Nasional government that Najib and his ilk were so bent on overthrowing, this phrase that his spin-masters regurgitate in their every social media post can in turn be used on him.
Since last October, Najib and his general Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, aided by none other than the man who would, could, might – but never did – become the prime minister, had been busy undermining every effort by the government to fight the pandemic.
From predicting doom for Malaysia’s vaccination programme (“Bossku” said it would take more than six years for Malaysia to achieve herd immunity), to allowing sarcasm and smart aleck one-liners to fill his social media pages on an almost hourly basis, he did it all.
But it was the announcement that he and his band of Umno MPs were revoking their support and declaring the government toppled at a time when various measures were critically needed to ensure the continued fight against the pandemic, that will forever remain Najib’s monument of miscalculation, for the want of a more polite word.
Najib overrated himself in seeking to checkmate Muhyiddin, just as he overrated himself when faced with a 93-year-old man three years ago.
Muhyiddin was the same man he sacked in 2016 and who took him down, hook, line and sinker, two years later.
Someone who cannot handle a 30-something-year-old crook, who was unaware that an obscene amount of money belonging to other people had entered his personal bank accounts, and who has yet to explain the lorry-loads of jewellery and handbags kept by his wife, should have no delusions that he can outplay a man who has proven himself a comeback kid not once, not twice, but now three times.
When it comes to coups, Najib should have taken lessons from a certain living example.
It was the late indomitable Karpal Singh who after one such failed attempt, told this certain person, as well as leaders from his own party DAP, to repent of creating “enough problems for the country”.
Right now, that advice applies to Najib too, alongside MPs and self-styled human rights activists who went on for months on end about a failed government at a time when the administration was desperately seeking to jumpstart the economy and ensure the success of the vaccination drive, and at a time when it had offered a historic chance to implement wide-ranging reforms that would have reset the country after the systematic destruction of the 1980s.
It would do Najib good not to add to the 42 criminal charges he already faces the crime of undermining efforts to save the country.
He proved an abject failure in managing the country’s finances to the embarrassment of Malaysians, and is now an abject failure in helping the nation weather the pandemic.
Abdar Rahman Koya is CEO & editor of MalaysiaNow.