The decline and fall of Najib

The prime minister had the perfect opportunity to act, but he neglected to do so. Consumed by greed and power, like many politicians in Malaysia, he looked the other way.

Mariam Mokhtar, FMT

As soon as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announces the date for 13th general election, it will probably sound his political death knell.

For the benefit of the rakyat, and in front of the television cameras and news photographers, Najib and his Cabinet present a united front; but behind the scenes, another story emerges.

Damaging leaks about the shortcomings of his leadership continue to undermine Najib. His grip on the party is tenuous. His strongest ally, the self-styled First Lady Rosmah Mansor, will do her utmost to ensure he succeeds.

Last month, the independent organisation, the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, found that Najib had high popularity ratings of 63% among voters in Peninsular Malaysia.

For the sake of “completeness”, why not a survey among voters in Sabah and also, Sarawak? It would have been interesting to gauge Najib’s popularity in Sabah, before and during the proceedings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) for Sabah.

If the same survey had been conducted among ministers in Najib’s own Cabinet, the results would be a good gauge of their confidence in his leadership.

The war that is being waged against Najib is on two fronts – he has to defend himself against the opposition and fight off guerrilla raids from invisible enemies, within Umno.

Najib, the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, has had a poor grounding in life. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he is only exposed to the suffering of the rakyat, in the months before election. To alleviate their pain, Najib distributes bags of rice and food, and tars their roads, rather than sorting out the issues which have plagued the people, over the past five years.

The prime minister’s privileged schooling is denied to the ordinary Malaysian. Najib may have been a product of a mission school, but mission schools are dying a slow death, deprived of money and support from the Education Ministry.

In his secondary schooling at Malvern College, a Church of England school, Najib would have attended daily chapel services, compulsory Sunday service, Remembrance Sunday, and Carol services in the Christmas term.

Najib has remained a Muslim despite attending these services, but he would have gained a thorough understanding of Christianity. Despite that, he has said nothing to persuade the extremists in Malaysia to practise tolerance and moderation.

He missed the chance

What can one expect from a career politician? When he defended his father’s seat, which had become vacant on his death, he won, presumably because of the sympathy votes.

How can a man who has not experienced the perils faced by the unskilled worker, the struggling graduate, working man and father know what it is like to live in Malaysia, where house prices are beyond most people’s reach, where car prices are jacked up, where justice is sold to the highest bidder and where most services require a sweetener? Najib’s education has not been put to good use to help his fellow Malaysian.