Sign of desperation for Najib

The Economist says the prime minister has been keeping the country on an ‘election footing’ ever since he took over the helm.

Free Malaysia Today

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is showing a “sign of desperation” besides acquiring a reputation for dithering over the election date, according to international weekly The Economist.

“He now has the regrettable distinction of being Malaysia’s second-longest-serving unelected prime minister, just behind his own father, the country’s second prime minister [Tun Razak],” said the paper.

Najib must call for an election by April the latest, but he has kept the country guessing on the actual date for the 13th general election.

The paper noted that latest survey conducted by Merdeka Centre gave the prime minister an approval rating of 64%, “down from the high point of his popularity in the middle of 2010”.

But the popularity of the ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional, “is much lower than the prime minister’s own”, it said.

The weekly added that the prime minister’s options are now diminishing fast.

The paper also said that Najib is becoming more like former British prime minister George Brown who, instead of calling for an early election and securing his own mandate while he was still popular, preferred to play a waiting game.

Brown had succeeded in pushing aside his predecessor Tony Blair, but “Mr Brown, unelected and indecisive, watched his authority drain away…”, said The Economist.

When Brown finally called for an election at the end of his term, he lost.

Likewise, The Economist said, Najib took over the premiership after “an internal party coup in April 2009 against the then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi”.

Ever since he took over the reins, Najib has been keeping the country on an “election footing”.

“All along, Malaysia has been on an election footing, with the cautious Najib ponderously cultivating the voters,” said The Economist.

Busy wooing voters

The paper noted that in the meantime, Najib has been busy wooing voters.

“He has crafted new policies for Malaysia’s younger, unaligned citizens while giving away plenty of money to retain his party’s traditional supporters, especially among the ethnic-Malay (and Muslim) majority,” it said.