What do a cheesy crunchy snack food and a global financial scandal have in common?
In Malaysia, it boils down to one man: Najib Razak, the former premier convicted of corruption and abuse of power – and aficionado of the local snack Super Ring, a bright orange cheese powder-dusted snack popular among schoolchildren.
Super Ring became strongly associated with Najib in May when he appeared to troll rival politicians after posting a photo of himself eating the snack – apparently not the first time he had posed with it in the past.
However, after Najib was found guilty on Tuesday on seven charges of corruption linked to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal, the Super Ring snack became a way for detractors and critics to show their derision.https://twitter.com/ngszehan/status/1288092235129479168
Super Ring started trending on Twitter soon after Najib’s verdict was read out in court, and became a de facto national symbol of trust in the judiciary and expression of satisfaction.
A number of opposition leaders and citizens on Wednesday posed with the snack on social media.
On Instagram, Parliamentarian Shamsul Iskandar stated “still in Parliament to prepare for tomorrow’s debate. Enjoy Super Ring first. Delicious”.https://twitter.com/imokman/status/1287974574223572992
Politicians Ong Kian Ming and Najwan Halimi also posted Super Ring pictures.https://twitter.com/NajwanHalimi/status/1288007185809600512
Besides Malaysians taking to social media to mock Najib, who was ousted in the country’s 2018 election, others used Photoshop to channel their creative talents.
Popular punk artist Fahmi Reza edited a photo of the snack to depict handcuffs being pulled out of the iconic blue packet.https://twitter.com/kuasasiswa/status/1288117640079147010
Manufactured by Malaysian snack producer Oriental Food Industries, Super Ring had previously joined in on the fun, greeting users in a June Facebook post with “Hey Bossku [hi my boss]!” – a nickname given to Najib by his supporters.
The former prime minister was sentenced to 12 years in jail and fined 210 million ringgit (S$68 million) in the first of five criminal trials linking him to the multibillion-dollar 1MDB corruption scandal.
He faces 35 more charges in the upcoming trials.
The judge delivered the sentence after finding Najib guilty of all seven charges, which included one of abuse of power, three of money laundering and three of criminal breach of trust.
The case involves some 42 million ringgit that flowed from SRC International, a subsidiary of the 1MDB state fund, to his personal accounts.
Najib appeared unfazed by the jibes.
Late on Wednesday, he re-posted the original photo of him eating Super Rings alongside a news clipping that said the Pakatan Harapan government in the state of Sabah was likely to collapse soon. “Another collapse?” he wrote.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.