Najib’s time ends now

Josh Hong, Hornbill Unleashed

From day one, Najib Abdul Razak’s apprenticeship as prime minister has been marked by facade. Having edged out Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with the help of Muhyiddin Yassin and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he promised the people a thorough reform, so that Barisan Nasional and most critically, Umno, could regain the public trust, and yet another mandate to rule.

At a media function nearly four years ago, he publicly stated that “there is a vital place… for a vibrant, free and informed media” and that “we need a media – both old and new – that is empowered to responsibly report what they see, without fear of consequence”.

NONENow, turn toUtusan MalaysiaBerita Harian, the New Straits Times,The Star and the Najib-friendly Sinchew Daily, and read for yourself their coverage on the fiasco at the Chinese New Year celebration in Penang, at which the crowd shouted “No!” loud and clear – not once, but three times – to Najib early this week. There is no better way to put Najib’s sincerity to test, and it is found utterly wanting.

Najib also admits that “the era when the government knows best is over”. Still, his party and coalition partners continue to exercise a tight grip on the mainstream media, with Utusan arguing flagrantly and atrociously that there is no need to verify negative news concerning the opposition parties.

And my sources told me that with Chinese support almost bottoming out with no hope of being revived before the upcoming general election, there is now a team of people at the Prime Minister’s Department directly monitoring all the Mandarin news on TV to ensure that ‘undesirable’ elements are edited out before they are aired.

azlanEven the Malay elite are beginning to feel the heat of Umno’s hegemony, and Azrul Azwar, the chief economist at the Islamic Bank suspended from duty over his ‘politically incorrect’ predictions, is a case in point.

Facade is actually a worse form of politicking than spin-doctoring. Whereas the latter is meant to interpret favourably words and actions of a certain politician to convince the public, and may contain half truths in it, the former is a sheer exercise of deception with a clear goal of fooling the people.

Najib’s rubbing salt into wounds

Hence, when Najib bowed to mounting public pressures and set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the mysterious and tragic death of Teoh Beng Hock, all that it culminated in was a verdict that only rubbed salt into the wounds of the victim’s family, while the death of Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed had been completely erased from public memory.

Despite that the RCI did identify ‘institutional racism’ as being pervasive in the public sector, Najib has done nothing to address the issue, choosing to blow his own horn of ‘1Malaysia’ ad nauseam.

But what ‘1Malaysia’ is he boasting? His wife, the infamous ‘First Lady’ Rosmah Mansor, graced a fundraising event hosted by Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa exactly a year ago, over which Najib was conspicuous by his elegant silence. I still remember someone describing it as, “as if Michelle Obama is endorsing the Ku Klux Klan”. What a fitting analogy!

NONENajib’s being beholden to the ultra-conservative forces within Umno can be clearly seen from his failure to chastise Ibrahim Ali (right) over the latter’s recent threat to burn the Bible. While Mahathir rushed to the defence of the Perkasa head, Najib just played dumb as usual. As a believer in free speech, I disagree with those who call for Ibrahim Ali’s arrest in the wake of his remarks, incendiary though they may have been.

But as a politician aspiring allegedly to national leadership, Najib should have at least had the courage to rebuke them. Born with a silver spoon, Najib is no risk-taker. He prefers, obviously, to indulge in his own fantasies of ‘transformation’ while the extremists are becoming bolder by the day.