Grand gestures will not save Najib


The Prime Minister’s display of strength is nothing but sound and fury

Scott Ng, Free Malaysia Today

Our Prime Minister is fond indeed of lurid displays. Every event is “special”, coordinated like a well-oiled machine designed for spectacle and to shield the country’s head honcho from the plebeian masses. Even now, in his time of peril, where his approval ratings have plunged to a mere 44% despite his efforts to appease the old guard of Umno, Najib’s sense for the theatrical has taken over as he summons Umno division heads to show their support for him in a show of strength to tell his political enemies that he will not budge from his place on the throne.

In movies, it is a rousing sight indeed to see the king standing in the midst of his troops, ready to charge into hell and high water to the final victory. Today, at this rally of Najib’s strength, he will attempt to recreate that imagery, but it will fall flat in full sight of his enemies. The grand old man, especially, will not be impressed.

For one, there are way too many chains weighing down the Prime Minister from regaining support. As many commentators have observed, Najib is too busy defending his political career to effectively govern the country, and the rakyat knows this. A leader who cannot address the problems faced by a country is one to be disposed of, and unless Najib remembers that his position implies responsibility to the rakyat, that day will come sooner rather than later.

Then there is his beleaguered pet project, the 1MDB. So much controversy surrounds the wealth fund, from scandals over the alleged involvement of one Jho Low to the billions of ringgit that are seemingly unaccounted for, that this may yet prove to be Najib’s greatest white elephant. In fact, the perception of 1MDB is so overwhelmingly negative that members of his own party have spoken against it, including the grand old man, Mahathir Mohamad, and to earn his displeasure is a death sentence in Malaysian politics.