To no one's surprise, Malaysian Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali has decided to end all investigations into the allegations of financial improprieties of Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
As many of you would recall, the Malaysian PM had nearly US$700 million (then estimated at RM2.6 billion) channelled into his personal accounts allegedly through state investment arm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). PM Najib admitted as much but claimed he has never used public money for "private gains". After months of stop-start investigations, including the "retirement" of the previous AG, AG Apandi (who was appointed to his role by PM Naijb at the height of the scandal) now says he has found no criminal offence in the RM2.6 billion "donation". He also said the money was a "donation" from the Saudi royal family and that PM Najib had returned a sum of RM2.03 billion to its donors in August 2013 as they were "unused".
The problem for PM Najib and the AG? No one believe them!
The "donation" alibi is widely dismissed by Malaysians, even within Malaysian's ruling party UMNO. Not only that, foreign governments are now looking into 1MDB-related overseas fund flows due to the scandal. The governments of Switzerland, the UK, the US, Singapore and even China (OK, Hong Kong) are all looking into the matter. So the Malaysian AG's decision means less than nothing in the wider context of the 1MDB scandal.
In fact, I think the only one that will be happy about his decision is the Malaysian opposition!
Think about it. Every poll in Malaysia shows PM Najib's popularity hovering around the 25% mark. Low oil prices has gotten the Malaysian economy into trouble, and the AG's decision to close the case will only heighten public discontent.
With elections due by 2018, and with PM Najib at the helm, the Malaysian opposition will now have a great chance of unseating the government. Hell, they already won the popular vote in the previous election and that was before the 1MDB saga. If I'm an opposition member in Malaysia, I want Najib to be in power in 2018. I want his baggage, his cronyism, and the 1MDB front and center in the election battle of 2018.
If I'm an opposition member in Malaysia, I will be cheering for Najib from now till 2018.