Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN)On Tuesday, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will appear in court — facing years in prison if convicted on corruption charges which seemed impossible less than a year ago.
The son and nephew of former prime ministers, scion of the Malay elite and head of the all-powerful United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which has dominated Malaysian politics since the country’s independence, Najib’s downfall is as staggering as the scale of the corruption he has been accused of.
Even after the scandal over 1MDB — the sovereign wealth fund Najib set up and allegedly helped embezzle billions of dollars from — erupted worldwide, the idea of Malaysia prosecuting its former leader still seemed like fantasy. Najib was the “Teflon prime minister
,” and almost all observers expected him to weather the storm.