Najib's supporters gather outside court, cry as he goes to prison

Najib's imprisonment was met with despair by family, silence from colleagues, and jubilation from opponents.

Tan Min-Wei | August 25, 2022, 04:08 PM

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Najib Razak, former Malaysian prime minister, convicted felon, and subject of several other corruption investigations, exhausted his final appeal in Aug. 23.

He has now started his 12 year sentence at Kajang prison.

Fears for tears

Najib's arrival at the Malaysian Palace of Justice (which houses the Federal Court) was met, as it usually was, with crowds of supporters sporting "Bossku" paraphernalia.

Bossku, which means "my boss", is a popular nickname for Najib.

But as the news of his failed appeal filtered out, his supporters expressed their disappointment and anger.

Some have questioned the legitimacy of the court and the chief justice.

Jailhouse Rock

Najib has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and a fine of RM210 million (S$65.6 million) in July 2020 for the misappropriation of funds from 1MDB subsidiary SRC International. He has been attempting to delay the start of his sentence ever since, by attempting to dismiss his lawyers or recusing the Chief Justice.

But on Aug. 23, he exhausted his possible appeals after his final attempt, to force the recusal of the chief justice, failed.

There has been much speculation as to whether he can receive a royal pardon, and whether he'd have to give up his seat in parliament representing Pekan in Pahang.

The Star reported that Malaysian Speaker of Parliament Azhar Azizan Harun said that Najib must apply for a royal pardon within 14 days, or would "automatically cease to be an MP".

It was initially speculated that he would be heading to Sungai Buloh prison, where opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had been held twice before. This expectation prompted a small gaggle of press to gather outside.

But he was ultimately conveyed to Kajang prison instead, with several convoys of motorcyclists allegedly showing up to see for themselves if what they had been told was true, as reported by The Star.

Carry on my wayward son

Najib himself lamented the result, musing on the 46 years he had spent in politics.

His daughter, similarly, bemoaned the result, but issued defiant words, saying "Bossku does not end here."

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A post shared by yananajib (@yananajib)

The next day, on Aug. 24, a small crowd of Najib supporters took to the streets near the Istana Negara, apparently to try to obtain a royal pardon for Najib.

But on Aug. 25, according to The Star, Malaysian police were looking to speak to the participants of the march.

The president of UMNO, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is himself facing 47 charges of corruption, said that the party would stand behind Najib in other court hearings, according to The Malaysian Insight

He also said that the conviction would not "erase the great service of Najib".

However, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaacob, also of UMNO, declined to mention the case directly, instead saying his focus was on governing, as reported by The Star.

Don't stop believing

Many on social media attributed the result to the 2018 general election that unseated Najib, and paved the way for his prosecution.

Democratic Action Party Member of Parliament Hannah Yeoh of the opposition evoked the struggles of voters in 2018 to show that their effort had borne fruit.

Much praise was directed towards Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat and the four other judges on the appeals panel.

It should be noted that social media reactions appeared to be heavily tilted against Najib, so much so that Malaysian newspapers such as the New Straits Times took time to document it.

The paper noted that over 20,000 tweets that referenced "Najib" and "Sungai Buloh" had been sent.

Here we go

Perhaps the biggest in-joke with the most preparation was a specially prepared twitter handle, parodying famous football journalist Fabrizio Romano, but with a twist.

However, unlike the real Romano, the tweet was not Tier 1: it got the transfer destination wrong.

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Top Image via @aminahfarid_/Twitter & Najib Razak/Facebook