The 101th Day

By TAY TIAN YAN/ Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily

I believe that the Prime Minister had a sweet 100th day in office.

The reaction from the civil society is better than expected. Leaders of many countries will envy the 65% approval rating.

I wouldn’t doubt the figure as the Merdeka Centre and its Director Ibrahim Suffian are trustworthy.

The points are the scenes behind the figure and its significance.

Najib’s situation is slightly different compared to other leaders who took the office the same time when Najib became the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Whether it is Lee Myung-Bak, Ma Ying Jeou, Nicolas Sarkozy or Barack Obama, they are now facing the problem of declining prestige. One of the reasons is the high popularity during the time when they took the office.

The people’s expectations were driven by the elections and incited by the election victories. The universal suffrage under the presidential system has as well contributed to the leaders’ personal momentum.

People had a very high expectation of the candidate they voted. Even though they were not the supporters, they would still be influenced by the environment and expected something from the chosen leader.

For example, South Korea President Lee Myung-Bak was having an almost unrealistic high prestige during the time when he won the presidential election. But it was difficult for him to reach the direct proportion between expectation and performance after he took the office.

When his actual performance did not comply with the high expectations, disappointment spread over the atmosphere, causing the rapid fall of his popularity.

When the people of South Korea, Taiwan, France, the United States and the United Kingdom are complaining about their leaders, as the outsiders, we may find that one of the reasons is perhaps, their leaders are not having poor performances, instead, the people have set their expectations too high.

On the other hand, it was the party’s decision to make Najib the Prime Minister. Thus, he was not driven up by the election.

He took the office when the country, as well as his personal image was facing a lot of problems. Personally, there were all kinds of gossips about him spreading around and externally, his government was facing various problems, including the continuous defeats in by-elections, the Perak chaos and the economic recession.

The then situation was the worst time for Najib. Just like the stock market, since it had already reached the bottom, the only direction to move on was to rebound.

Meanwhile, Najib’s people-friendly and moderation image, as well as his several liberal policies have overturned the people’s impression on him, which was conservative, self-contained and unyielding.

When the people have changed their impression on Najib, they changed as well their attitude of reservations and objections, leading to the rise of his popularity.

However, politicians must not revel in applause, too much of applause will always obscure the other voices. It was one of the problems of former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak.

From the 101th day in office, the people’s expectations have risen and it is going to be very difficult to maintain the 65% approval rating, unless if he keeps up the effort and do better.