An eventful year for Najib

The year 2011 has been a challenging one for the prime minister at home and abroad.

IIUM’s four-year study pointed out that Najib’s popularity among the Malays shows a marked improvement from 35 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2011, an increase from 33 to 45 percent among the Chinese and from 41 to 62 percent among the Indians.

By Ali Imran Mohd Noordin, Free Malaysia Today

Though 2011 has been a challenging year for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, both at the domestic and the global front, it was still an eventful year.

At the domestic front, Najib continued with the transformation programmes while addressing the ever-changing aspirations of the people. He continued with radical changes including abolishing the controversial Internal Security Act (ISA).

At the global front, the economic decay of the West in particular has created new challenges in promoting the national economy. The prospect of an impending global recession prompted Najib to thread a cautious path in managing the country’s financial resources.

Nonetheless, Najib, known for his tenacity and unwavering commitment, took on the task of leading the country based on his mantra – “People First, Performance Now”.

The year witnessed numerous bold transformation initiatives by the “Father of Transformation” based on the 1Malaysia aspiration that has been the hallmark of Najib’s initiatives.

It is apparent that many of his efforts are showing results. The people too in general appreciated his strategies and public approval on Najib’s leadership has improved tremendously.

A popularity study by Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (IIUM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) indicated greater approval for Najib from all races in the country.

IIUM’s four-year study pointed out that Najib’s popularity among the Malays shows a marked improvement from 35 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2011, an increase from 33 to 45 percent among the Chinese and from 41 to 62 percent among the Indians.

A similar study conducted by UPM this year on the minorities – Indian Muslims, Portuguese, Baba Nyonya, Orang Asli, Siam and Chitty – found a total of 54.2 percent of the minorities giving their thumbs-up for Najib.

1Malaysia brand

Just mention the rhyming acronyms – KR1M, PR1MA, MR1M, BR1M and the latest KIR1M – they immediately refer to Najib’s effort to touch base with the people, especially the needy.

The KR1M or the Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia are retail outlets offering daily necessities at affordable prices, up to 60 percent below other retail outlets.

The whole idea is to reduce the burden of urban poor, with KR1M offering daily necessities like rice, egg, milk, flour and chili sauce. Also available are frozen items, diapers and detergents.

KR1M is further complemented by Kedai Ikan Rakyat 1Malaysia (KIR1M) launched this month, offering fresh seafood at prices 30 to 40 percent lower than prevailing market price.

Menu Rakyat 1 Malaysia (MR1M) ensures the man on the street enjoys a meal worth up to RM2 for breakfast and RM4 for lunch.

As at Dec 16, the number of vendors who joined the MR1M scheme had roughly doubled, with 1,155 MR1M outlets opened all over the nation, compared with 611 when launched last July.

In the latest move, the MR1M outlets would be available at all higher education institutions starting with Universiti Malaya.

The 1Malaysia Public Housing Project (PR1MA) was launched on July 4 as a strategic initiative to fulfil the housing needs of the people, especially the urban middle-class.

In Putrajaya, under the programme 560 affordable homes priced between RM120,000 and RM150,000 in Precinct 11 were allocated for local youths with household income below RM6,000. This project is expected to be extended to other places like Johor Baru and Penang.

The 2012 Budget allocated RM100 to every school student and book vouchers worth RM200 for undergraduates. The government’s goodwill was further extended with the RM500 hand-out under 1Malaysia Public Assistance (BR1M) for households earning less than RM3,000.

Making the transformation a reality

Realising that the people have been yearning for positive changes, a number of transformation programmes has been launched. Among them is the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that puts Malaysia on the path to emerge as a high income nation by 2020.

One of the 85 programmes implemented in 2011 is the Small Retail Outlet Transformation Programme (TUKAR) to help modernise small-time retailers and help them to compete with other players.

The programme is expected to contribute RM5.56 billion and create 51,540 employment opportunities.

On the whole, all the ETP initiatives launched in 2011 are expected to contribute RM150 billion and create more than 300,000 employment opportunities by 2020.

The government transformation, too, is showing results. Malaysia was listed on the 19th spot among the safest country index, a significant improvement from the 38th spot in 2008.

The same index also picked Malaysia as the safest country in Southeast Asia and fourth safest spot in the Asia-Pacific region, behind New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

One of the seven National Key Result Areas (NKRA) is reducing crime.

Najib etched his name in the nation’s history when he repealed the controversial Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) and Banishment Act 1959.

He also said that the Restricted Residence Act 1933, Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 would be reviewed. The move was welcomed by most, within and outside the country.

Also on review is Section 27, Police Act 1967 that provides discretionary powers to the police to control and issue permits for rallies.

The latest, and another landmark decision by Najib, is the amendments to Section 15 of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, allowing undergraduates to join political parties upon reaching 21 years of age.