Following yesterday’s headlines that former Malaysian prime minister Najib Abdul Razak was finally headed to jail after the country’s high court upheld his 2020 conviction and 12-year prison sentence for stealing from public coffers, a tweet from a Malaysian imploring his countrymen to “learn from the Philippines’ lesson” has gone viral on our shores and hit hard on Filipino social media.
After Najib’s guilty verdict was announced, activist Pang Khee Teik took to Twitter to write, “We need to learn from [the] Philippines’ lesson. We need to ensure that Najib’s children will not one day make a comeback, win elections, rewrite history, and rehabilitate his father’s image as a misunderstood hero. That dynasty ends now. [Let] all dynasties end, please.”
We need to learn from Philippines' lesson. We need to ensure that Najib's children will not one day make a comeback, win elections, rewrite history, and rehabilitate his father's image as a misunderstood hero. That dynasty ends now. All dynasties end please.
— Pang Khee Teik (@PangKheeTeik) August 23, 2022
The Philippines made international headlines this year after Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr won the May presidential election by a landslide — a mere 36 years after his father, Ferdinand Marcos Sr, was ousted from office by the People Power Revolution for the two decades of massive corruption and human rights violations the under his rule.
Experts have attributed Marcos Jr’s win and his family’s successful return to power to the backing of the country’s most powerful political elites and a years-long online disinformation campaign that whitewashed the history of Marcos Sr’s martial law regime.
Unlike Marcos Sr, who was able to flee to Hawaii with his family after his ouster, Najib has been sent to prison for his crime despite years of appeals and legal delay tactics. Yesterday’s decision by the Federal Court affirmed the 2020 decision that found the former premier guilty of embezzling RM42 million (US$10 million) from a subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and he still has several other pending legal cases related to the 1MDB scandal.
While many Filipino netizens expressed regret over being a “cautionary tale,” they also supported Pang’s call to make sure history doesn’t get rewritten later.
“We’re now a cautionary tale for Malaysians,” one user wrote.
“Congratulations, Philippines! We are a cautionary tale for democracies all around the world! We made it!” another sarcastically lamented.
“Please do. Ensure your country never has to face the horror that is politics in the Philippines 2022. Learn from our mistakes. Wishing your country well,” another replied.
“Yes please!!! Make documentaries, movies, plays about them, put them in schools as part of history subjects, make a museum about them, spread all the stories/facts in all media forms, make it accessible and DO NOT LET THE NEXT GENERATION FORGET WHAT HAPPENED TO YOURS,” another wrote.
“But we have these in the Philippines. It’s actually the older generation and the boomers who don’t know how to identify fake news made by trolls and vloggers that are the majority of the voters. It’s social media that needs to be controlled,” a user replied.
Other users warned Malaysians to stay vigilant on social media for any disinformation that can be spread to mislead people.
“Be wary of how social media can be weaponized to spread misinformation and distort how your history is viewed. That has been our downfall and remains a growing problem to date,” one wrote.
“Watch out for Tiktok, YouTube and Facebook. Beware of Cambridge Analytica. Make laws like Germany where Nazi propaganda and Holocaust denialism is a crime. Oust all their cronies in all levels. End ALL political dynasties. I hope you succeed and please remember us,” another user implored.