Who speaks for Najib? Everyone!

(The Malaysian Insider) – “I am doing this at Najib’s orders.’’

Even before he takes over as prime minister and assumes the power which comes with the position, the might of Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is being flexed around town in a menacing fashion.

Not by him but by a coterie of businessmen, political fixers and runners who all claim that they are acting at the behest of the next PM. They have been hounding newspaper editors, telling them which stories to downplay, where to place photographs and passing ominous warnings supposedly from “the top’’.

This group of individuals have also been touching base with the senior management of government-linked companies, suggesting that they can either protect their positions in GLCs or speed up their descent down the corporate ladder.

These fixers also want to find out where the “loyalty’’ of the senior editors and the Blackberried corporate set lie, whether they are Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s men or whether they can be trusted to protect Najib’s flank.

In all likelihood, these businessmen/fixers/ runners are known to Najib or his family but it is unlikely that they have been asked to do guard duty.

They are doing so for two purposes: One, to create the impression in the public domain that they close to the apex of power — a useful impression to nurture for business opportunities and influence building.

Two, to report back to someone in the Najib camp and earn some chips for bringing the troublesome press and GLCs to line.

The same trend happened in November 2003 when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as prime minister. Several of his long-time supporters cashed in on his position even before he moved into Sri Perdana. Some of them struck business deals and others got into cosy relationships, often on the back of hawking his name, and often to the detriment of his reputation as a clean politician.

The difference between now and then is this: the size of the caravan.

More individuals — and right across racial groups — seem to claim to be speaking on his behalf and doing his bidding. This could be due to fact that Najib is more inclusive than Abdullah, allowing former Anwaristas, Maharistas and others under his umbrella.

They name drop and establish their credentials among editors and corporate figures with a juicy anecdote about Najib and his family.

But the danger in having hangers-on and fixers as Abdullah fund out is that they expect a payback.

Correction: they expect a hefty payback and soon. In addition, they often sully the name and image of their “benefactor’’ with their avarice and excesses.

Worse yet, they become supremely confident after a while and have no qualms about bossing senior civil servants around, a move which will invite the wrath of the powerful public sector on the administration.

All this happened during the Abdullah regime and if the past few weeks are any indication, it looks like the gravy train is set to continue rolling on during the Najib era.

Unless, the incoming PM culls the growing band of businessmen, fixers and runners who claim that they are speaking on his behalf.