The knockout punch Najib failed to deliver

The politicians of the day are still busily ferreting gold for themselves – possibly as much as they can before they get thrown out either in 2011 or 2012.

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

The much longed-for recognition for Malaysia Day finally came in the form of a public holiday for the entire nation, but it failed to do anything to shore up the political position or the popularity of Prime Minister Najib Razak and his BN coalition.

And for this Najib has to take the blame. Not only has he been hiding behind glitzy public relations that do nothing but burn a hole in taxpayers’ pockets, even his Malaysia Day message was laughed at by the people for perceived cowardice. For while the 57-year old Najib disavowed ‘extremism’ in his speech, he took great care to do it as vaguely as possible so that no one knew what he was talking about or was referring to. Intentional or not, the end result was that no one took him seriously. And that is serious.

Because September 16 could have delivered so much for him and the BN. It could have been their knockout punch to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

In 2008, Anwar had promised Malaysians to topple the BN federal government but his complex plan went awry. Unsurprisingly, for months after that, Anwar was mercilessly attacked for being a Mr Talk-A-Lot.

When Najib came to power months later in April 2009, he grandly proclaimed a holiday for Malaysia Day. If he had worked hard, done his job, delivered the reforms he promised, then on September 16, 2010, he could have proudly and justifiably showed the country the difference between him and Anwar.

But sad to say, all that Malaysians saw on Thursday was another public relations show from Najib.

Making use of racial and religious-bigotry

More than a year has passed, but Najib leader has little or even zero to show for it. In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was voted into the world’s top 10 most respected leaders by Newsweek last month alongside Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah who had urged Muslims “to embrace the spirit of tolerance, moderation and balance.”

By contrast, no mention was made of Najib at all and unsurprisingly the Umno-aligned newspapers and online portals went on a desperate binge to avoid comparison with the Singapore leader. But that doesn’t mean Najib hasn’t hit the international headlines at all. He has – but for the wrong issues and reasons.

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