Are we having a popularity contest?

We want to know more than just who is winning the popularity contest. We want to know from both Najib and Anwar what are their strategies to make Malaysia self-sufficient in food production and how long is this going to take? We also want to know what are the back-up plans and contingencies in the event there is crop failure in our neighbouring countries and they refuse to continue selling food to Malaysia?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Chua Soi Lek said that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is ahead of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in the popularity contest. I did not realise that we were running a popularity contest.

This is what I was trying to say in my latest articles in ‘The Corridors of Power’. This is not a popularity contest. This is not about ‘do you love Najib?’ — and if you do not then vote Pakatan Rakyat because if Pakatan Rakyat wins then you will get Anwar as the new Prime Minister to replace Najib.

Malaysia is not the US. It is not about two people contesting to become the country’s leader. It is about which government can better serve the country’s interest.

Malaysia’s Westminster system of government is modelled after the UK. In the UK, they vote for the party that can best serve the British voters. They talk about Labour or Conservative (care a damn who the leader is) although now LibDem is also on their lips. Most voters are not concerned about the party leader although I admit some do vote based on who is leading the party.

Okay, let’s say we want Anwar rather than Najib as the next Prime Minister. I have no problems with that. But why do we want Anwar rather than Najib? Is it because we hate Rosmah Mansor? (That’s a good reason). Is it because we believe that Najib is somehow involved in Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder? (That’s another good reason). Is it because of the rampant and blatant corruption? (That’s a damn good reason).

So, yes, we have our reasons as to why we don’t want Najib. But that is not enough. We can’t say we want Anwar because we don’t want Najib. We must say we want Anwar because we want Anwar.

So why do we want Anwar (other than because we don’t want Najib)? Let’s be clear in our minds about this. Even more important than that, let’s make sure Anwar too knows why we want him and not Najib (and not that we want him just because we don’t want Najib).

There are three things that are more important than Rosmah and Altantuya (and probably at par with our detest for corruption). And these are health, education and food.

When we are young (like my five grandchildren) we need a good education system (and good meaning comparable to global standards, not just Malaysian standards). I want to know that my grandchildren can survive, not only in Malaysia, but anywhere in the world — and that they can compete with the more than seven billion world population. And, to do that, they will have to be damn smart and backed with a damn good education.

When you are old, like me, you need a good health care system. And at my age, 61, I am beginning to require all sorts of health care. I now fall down when I walk and bump into things and whatnot. I realise that I am getting old and unless I get good health care I will not last too long in this world. (And that is why I am taking all these courses in Oxford. I realise that my body is failing but I want to make sure that my mind remains sharp till the day I take my last breath).

And, to make sure that we all live to a ripe old age, we need food, good and nourishing food. And this is something that all Malaysians should be worried about because the country is not self-sufficient yet. Most of what you see in the market is imported. There is nothing that Malaysia produces that is enough, let alone surplus that can be exported.

Of course, we also need jobs, a house, transportation, some entertainment, a holiday now and then, some spare shopping money to go buy a Birkin handbag, and whatnot. But we will not die if we can’t do all that. We will if our health is not taken care of and we have no food to eat. And, without a good education, how do we support ourselves after we leave school — unless we want to go to Indonesia to work as maids and construction workers (which one day might just happen, so don’t laugh too fast)?

Anwar was both Education and Agriculture minister at one time. What did he do when he headed these Ministries? Today, we complain about the state of affairs of our agriculture industry and our education system. Are not all these ‘inherited’ problems (they did not just happen recently)? These were problems prevailing since the time Anwar was the Minister. Nothing has changed.

I don’t want to know who is winning the popularity contest. Sukarno was also popular, more popular than Najib and Anwar combined. But was Indonesia heaven on earth when Sukarno was its President? He messed up the country good and proper.

So did his successor, Suharto, another very popular leader. Only now can Indonesia be said to be moving forward. In the very near future, Malaysia is going to be the poor cousin of Indonesia, just like East Germany was to West Germany.

We want to know more than just who is winning the popularity contest. We want to know from both Najib and Anwar what are their strategies to make Malaysia self-sufficient in food production and how long is this going to take? We also want to know what are the back-up plans and contingencies in the event there is crop failure in our neighbouring countries and they refuse to continue selling food to Malaysia?

We also want to know how the health and education systems are going to be reformed and when we can expect not just quality health care and education but also they being available FREE to all Malaysians.

Can we start with these three very crucial areas? Then, in that same breath, we can also talk about how to eliminate or reduce corruption. A popular leader is of no use to Malaysia if he does not have vision. So what is the vision and mission of both Najib and Anwar who are offering themselves as ‘the most popular leader of Malaysia’?


Najib always ahead of Anwar in popularity contest, says Soi Lek

(The Malaysian Insider) – Datuk Seri Najib Razak has always been the preferred leader for Malaysians, says Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, rather than Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who has lost support after “crying wolf” too many times.

The MCA president also believed that Anwar’s sodomy acquittal had vindicated the prime minister and not the opposition leader, as it proved the judiciary’s independence — a line that the Najib administration has used after the verdict was handed down on January 9.

As such, Dr Chua (picture) disagreed that the acquittal had placed both rivals on a level playing field and was unlikely to have a great impact on the results of the coming general election.

“To begin with, it has never been a level playing field and all the studies have shown that Najib, on his own, is more popular than Anwar.

“Their (the opposition’s) own studies also show that. So it never started with the same level playing field,” the MCA chief told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview here.

Following Anwar’s highly-publicised sodomy acquittal, analysts said both political rivals Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) were now neck and neck in the contest for Malaysia’s middle ground.

They added that with the end of the sodomy trial, both sides could now focus their attention on the economy and reforms needed to ensure Malaysia remains competitive.

“The positive outcome of the case evens out the playing field,” Ibrahim Suffian from the Merdeka Center had told The Malaysian Insider.

But Dr Chua said Anwar’s initial popularity when he re-entered the political scene had lost steam over the years.

“I think he has been calling bluff too many times. First, they said they would take over. I still remember receiving the SMS that the Agong was going to swear in Anwar as the new PM.

“So when you cry wolf or fire too many times, there will be a day when you actually catch fire and nobody pays attention to it,” he said.

Dr Chua was referring to Anwar’s controversial September 16 takeover attempt, when the PR de facto leader had boasted mass defections from BN would help the fledgling opposition pact claim Putrajaya.

The failed attempt haunted Anwar for years, with BN leaders trumpeting to the public that the incident showed the opposition leader’s penchant for lying to the public.

“Next, people can also see that what we call the ‘PM-elect’ (Anwar), apart from his rhetoric, what has he done?

“As RPK (blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin) correctly pointed out — in three years, he (Anwar) has gone overseas 60 or 100 times. Can you imagine? Hopping around the world, giving lectures… people can see whether you are just spinning, playing politics,” Dr Chua said.

In contrast, the former health minister said Najib has been concentrating on running his administration and transforming the economy.

“Whether you like Najib or not, he has paid a lot of attention to the economic transformation of the country and all the indicators show that in terms of foreign direct investment, we have done up,” he said.

Dr Chua said the business community are “practical people” who believe in delivery more than political rhetoric and in that respect, Najib has far surpassed Anwar in the popularity contest.

Buoyed by the feel-good factor following Anwar’s acquittal and cash handouts from Budget 2012, it is widely expected that Najib will call elections within months, ahead of the BN mandate expiring in May 2013.

Najib is due to celebrate the Chinese New Year later today in Penang, where the sizeable Chinese community voted in PR in Election 2008, paving the way for Lim Guan Eng to be chief minister.