Critics nod as Dr M pillories 1 Malaysia

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — Political analysts have backed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s strident criticism of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept, labelling it “vague” and “inconsistent.”

The former prime minister reportedly said on Monday that 1 Malaysia needed further “explanation” to prevent it from being interpreted differently by various races.

Analysts feel that the slogan, first mooted by Najib shortly after he took office on April 3 last year, was being interpreted as a mere rebranding of a pro-Malay governance even as the premier’s administration is trying to win over non-Malay support.

“Yes, I agree with what Tun Dr Mahathir said; I suppose he has a point. The Najib administration has trouble convincing Malaysians on 1 Malaysia because there are still different ways of interpreting the slogan.

“It’s an image that the prime minister and the government want to incorporate, but there are still glaring inconsistencies,” said Ibrahim Suffian, director of Merdeka Center, an independent public opinion poll centre.

Ibrahim told The Malaysian Insider that surveys conducted by his centre found a split in how Malays and non-Malays understood Najib’s 1 Malaysia.

“Some Malays view 1 Malaysia as a rebranding of the current Malay (form) of governance. Other races think that Barisan Nasional (BN) has finally learnt its lesson,” he said.

Ibrahim claimed that a section of the Malay community — particularly those from Umno’s own ranks — are “uncomfortable” with the “vagueness” of the 1 Malaysia concept, interpreting it as Najib’s willingness to cede Malay rights to appease the country’s ethnic minorities.

“Some Malays, especially those with within Umno, view the vagueness as an encroachment of Malay rights, as a signal that the Najib administration is giving in to the demands made by minorities,” he said.

“The Najib administration wants to use 1 Malaysia to appeal to everyone. Given that the concept is vague, it’s a broad concept. At the end of the day, the Malays and the non-Malays have to grapple with the inconsistencies of the concept.

“If this goes on, Najib might fall into the trap of [ultimately] not pleasing anybody,” added Ibrahim.

Another political analyst, Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, said that 1 Malaysia needed to be consistent with the policies and leadership of the current government administration.

“Certainly, I would agree with Tun Dr Mahathir to an extent. The policies in 1 Malaysia needs to reflect the current leadership. It needs to be explained, because 1 Malaysia is a concept that is geared to support the Vision 2020,” said Dr Sivamurugan.