Time for rhetoric long over, PM

(The Malaysian Insider) – Here we go again. It was thought Putrajaya has sacked FBC Media, APCO Worldwide and other spin merchants, but it looks like their ideas are still influencing the government.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is obviously enamoured with the idea of sounding like a statesman abroad, and there is nothing wrong with that posturing if it is supported by substance.

But having an opinion piece in The Times of London and praising Britain for rejecting extremism is shallow, given the manner in which chauvinism and extremism is embraced by his administration and political party.

In the article, Najib was pleased at the response of thousands of Britons who slammed the attack on a Malaysian student and who stood up for moderation.

Strange, because his administration did not laud the thousands of middle-class Malaysians who left their living rooms and Starbucks to march for a clean electoral system.

Instead, these Malaysians were demonised, called names and branded an illegal organisation. At the same time, this administration has been incapable of protecting Malaysians from growing extremism.

There is also more than a nagging suspicion that the government permits the likes of Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Perkasa to flourish.

The Times article is at the core of what ails this administration. They want to look good to the outside world, specifically Western world.

So, millions of ringgit is spent on buying airtime and column space to project the leaders of this country as moderate and progressive.

But little attention is paid to walking the talk at home. The end result is that there is growing ambivalence about government and PM, as is reflected in downward trend in the PM’s approval rating.