Najib’s options with Allah

COMMENTATOR Manjit Bhathia is right to say that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak “is starting to look every bit as useless as his predecessor, (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.”

By Wong Chin Huat (The Nut Graph)

After the divisive rule of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad, Abdullah started his premiership with similar appeals as Najib: ethno-religious moderation and governmental reform. In a way, Najib’s 1Malaysia is but a secular version of Abdullah’s Islam Hadhari; his Key Performance Indicators and National Key Result Areas are but an upgraded version of Abdullah’s short-lived reform to shape up the bureaucracy and combat corruption.

Beginning his term by winning the highest parliamentary majority since Independence, Abdullah soon became the first Barisan Nasional (BN) prime minister to lose the coalition’s customary two-thirds control of Parliament.  Why did this happen? Indecisiveness — Abdullah wanted to please everyone and ended up pleasing nobody. Could Najib meet the same fate as Abdullah?

By starting reforms, Abdullah alienated his predecessor and the warlords within his party, the civil service and the police. By backtracking on reforms to please these warlords, he alienated the middle-ground voters and emboldened the far-right elements in Umno. His flip-flop style eventually invited three mass demonstrations in 2007, among them the deadly Hindraf rally that swept away the BN’s Indian Malaysian support.

In every measure, Najib is now weaker than Abdullah. Instead of coming in as Mr Clean like Abdullah, Najib’s ascendancy to the premiership was marred by allegations of his involvement in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu and his role in the Perak coup.

Hishammuddin (Courtesy of
And the public anger evoked by then Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s keris-waving antics is nothing compared to public anger now evoked by the church burnings. In fact, many Malaysians are blaming Hishammuddin as the home minister for his double standards on demonstrations. After all, he had excused protesters dragging a severed cow’s head and threatening violence in front of a Hindu temple in September 2009 before public anger forced him to prosecute them.

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