What Najib needs

By Ooi Kee Beng (The Nut Graph)

A national discourse that expresses the gravity, integrity and sincerity of the government is vital to a country's stability. Otherwise, why pay attention to a government that either threatens you, takes you for a fool, or embarrasses you?

AND so, after holding the sceptre of power for five and a half years, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi now passes it to Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

While Abdullah's ascendance to power in 2003 was greeted with cheers from Malaysians, his retirement is being met with grave apprehension. This is not because his term in office was an exciting one. Rather, it is because the weakened state of Umno and the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) is further aggravated by the low esteem in which Najib is being held.

Nevertheless, given how so many within Umno, including Najib himself, seem to buy into the idea that the eldest son of the second premier, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, is fated to be Malaysia's leader, nothing has been able to stop Najib's climb to the top.

But staying there will not be an easy business.

For one thing, there is no status quo that Najib can rest upon. He takes over the ship in the middle of a storm — a tsunami, if I may be allowed to use the tired imagery one more time — and so, his new administration has to move fast, and be seen to move fast, in one direction or another.

Making promises and then taking one's time to fulfill them in watered-down form did not work for Abdullah, and for certain will not work for Najib.

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