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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Losing the Malay vote: Comparison with Anwar is Najib's greatest fear


Losing the Malay vote: Comparison with Anwar is Najib's greatest fear
Embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak is under attack from all fronts. Not only is the most powerful 'warlord' in Umno - former premier Mahathir Mohamad - losing confidence in him to win the 13th general election, even the smaller chieftains as well as the disgraced ones such as former Selangor chief minister Khir Toyo are publicly giving their two cents worth on how to stave off Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
For Najib - a clumsy and awkward politician - the solution is simple. Bombard Anwar. It does not seem to have occurred to him that Pakatan has grown beyond what it was when it went into the 2008 general elections - a loose pact of three parties, namely PKR, PAS and DAP. Be that as it may, Najib's dependence on media sensationalism and a shady group of bought-over politicians has reaped some reward for the Pakatan, in that the tactic has boomeranged and whittled down Najib's credibility even more.
Malaysians would choose Anwar
When Najib first took over as prime minister in 2009 and promised reforms, Malaysians were optimistic and gave him a chance. But nearly 4 years have passed, and Najib has been proven to be a fraud - espousing lofty ideals in public but doing the opposite in reality. In the end, he is seen as little more than just another weak Umno leader who needs to rely on race and religion to stir up support for himself.
On this basis, it is no wonder that try as he will, the near nightly TV appearances by dubious people such Senator S Nallakauppan, Senator Ezam Mohd Nor, Ummi Hafilda and former MIC Youth leader N Gobalakrishnan have only sparked cynicism about his caliber as a prime minister. Nonetheless, having paid out hefty fees, plus handing out several Senatorships, Najib feels it is 'safer' to continue with his "sex, sex, sex" campaign against Anwar. After all, it worked for Mahathir, so why not for him? But it only 'worked' for Mahathir because he threw Anwar into jail. Can Najib do the same to Anwar today? Will the political consequences be the same?
Conveniently, Najib also seems to have forgotten that the people are able to think for themselves or that they might wonder why is he pushing such an incredulous campaign? Why doesn't he just take on Anwar in the public debate that the Opposition Leader has challenged him to over and over again?
The answers are obvious, of course. Najib could never take on Anwar and it is not just to do with oratorical skills. A debate would spark the very comparison that he is trying to avoid at all costs. Najib knows he is no match for the gifted Anwar. Even Mahathir picked Anwar over Najib to be his deputy prime minister when Anwar was still in Umno.
Therefore, to allow Malaysians who will surely glue themselves to the TV for such a debate, and allow them - especially the Malays - the opportunity to evaluate and - horrors of horror - compare the two men, Najib might as well throw in the towel straightaway.
Things are not working out for Najib
At 58, Najib is in an awkward position due mainly to his own inability to lead and to his indecisive character. This is why wife Rosmah Mansor has been so influential compared to the other wives of the previous premiers. As PKR Women's chief Zuraida Kamaruddin has pointed out, if Najib cannot control his wife - whose wild spending sprees have disturbed the man in the street all the way up to Parliament - how can he be expected to control the nation.
Until now, he has failed to utter a squeak in response to the invitation from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to team up with fugitive blogger Raja Petra and take on Anwar in a moderated debate. By stark comparison, Anwar agreed without fuss despite the unfairness of having to take on Najib and Raja Petra in a two-versus-one.
Perhaps, Najib expected Anwar to be as afraid as he is and to rebuff Assange. After all, two versus one is hardly fair. But Anwar upped the ante when he straightaway said yes, arguing that paramount was to give the people a chance to assess and evaluate for themselves the state of their nation and to decide who could better run their nation - Pakatan or BN?
So to continue to bombard Anwar on the "sex, sex, sex" theme is 'safer', Najib reckons. There are many reasons for him and his camp to believe they are on the right track. One factor is desperation.
Back to the wall
Najib is himself in a very vulnerable position right now, because so many issues and scandals are coming together at him, all at the same time. He simply can't cope. Hence, the frequent overseas trips. Each time, the cabin door of the government's plush jet closes, Najib heaves a sigh of relief and wipes his sweaty brow.
Everyone and everything seems to be closing in on him and he has no answers. No even as to when the 13th general election will be held. Initially the Opposition was accused of trying to rush GE-13, but why would they when the electoral reforms they have been demanding are nowhere ready?
No, the ones piling pressure on Najib to announce the GE-13 date are the Umno warlords themselves. The big ones like Mahathir and Daim can wait. Like the Opposition, they want to win and if it takes another year when the BN's mandate officially expires in March 2013, so be it. But tell that to the smaller warlords, who can hardly wait to get their hands on the funds that Najib will allocate to each division to get their machinery ready for polls. These guys are baying like werewolves for the money, and in Umno tradition, one can safely expect that 90% will be siphoned over to their own accounts. Yes, the majority of Umno warlords want their 'ringgit' and now!
Malaysians dread another 5 years under Najib and Rosmah
As for Najib and Rosmah, they would prefer to forever hold on to Putrajaya, the official Seri Perdana residence, the overseas trips on taxpayers' expense, the army of flunkies at their beck and call and so forth. In fact, their ideal would be - no general election at all, period!
But for the people, it is clear their patience has run out. The latest Christianization threat failed to stir the ruckus that similar episodes in the past had. This time, the Christians were not shy to lash out and without pulling punches. However, the rest of Malaysia watched with a weary eye.
Uppermost on their minds were the thoughts that if Najib was to be re-elected, they would have to live with another 5 years of such time-wasting rule. Can they bear another 5 years of Najib and Rosmah, another 5 years of manipulation and backseat driving by Mahathir and Daim, another 5 years of corruption and illicit outflows?
This is what Najib should face up to. These are the questions that are running through the people minds. But he does not feel the pulse of the nation. He never has.
Recent flops
Look at the Felda Global Ventures Holdings listing he is hammering through in June. It is unpopular to a large number of the Felda settlers but Najib only chooses to hear the calls of support from those who want it.
Same goes for the MAS-AirAsia share swap deal, which was condemned and heavily protested by MAS staff. Did Najib listen? But now that the national carrier has posted even worst results after the swap, he is trying to cajole the MAS staff, a large proportion of whom are Malays and may vote for the Pakatan out of disgust if he doesn't take notice of their complaints. But just like everybody else in Malaysia, MAS staff will soon find out that Najib doesn't mean what he says. The PM only intends to cluck his tongue and express some sympathy but until the deal is reversed, MAS staff should not hold their breath.
Another big flop was the My First House scheme that Najib was pinning his hopes on to win the votes of the young professionals, who had suddenly found themselves unable to buy property due to runaway prices that he - as Finance minister - failed to do anything about or to try and control. It was only last week that the central Bank Negara finally announced measures to release the pressure valve in the property market by making it tougher to borrow and speculate on real estate prices.
So, no, Najib did nothing to redeem himself as Finance minister. If he had, he could still have some legacy. But the economy was mostly stagnant to slowing during the past 4 years, and moving on auto-pilot. The gears have now shifted up a notch for a major slowdown as past warnings of a global squeeze start to filter into the local economy. With the Opposition hyperactive and not missing anything, Najib is no longer able to plunder from the cash-rich Employee Provident Fund as his predecessors used to. This means Umno will no longer be able to pass the buck from the left hand to the right hand and then pretend that the country has progressed when the movement was merely lateral and not forward at all.
Hence, sensationalism and "sex, sex, sex" to divert the Malays
So, no wonder Najib needs "sex, sex, sex" against Anwar. He has to use sensationalism to capture the Malays' interest, like the poverty-stricken in India rely on Bollywood for respite against their harsh daily lives.
Malaysians and Christians must beware and brace for new onslaughts from the likes of extremist groups Perkasa and Hasan Ali's Jati. In fact, on Monday, Hasan will finally be revealing a much-awaited video, which he claims proves that Christians are going all out to convert Muslims in Malaysia.
On the racial front, education is likely to be used as another tool of diversion to get the Malays upset and fearful of the Chinese. The May 13, 1969 racial riots will again be used to frighten the Chinese into submission and it is no accident that Najib planned the Umno 66th anniversary celebration to end on May 13, where he is expected to make a 'special' speech.
To Najib, it is a matter of life and death to keep knocking down Anwar. Why? He cannot afford to allow the Malays to focus on the reality and come to the realization that Anwar is really one of the most talented Malay leaders of recent times. There is a huge difference in their political styles, culture, education and economic programs.
In economics, Najib goes for the alphabet soup programs of GTP, ETP, EPP and so on. Anwar, voted best Finance minister by an international magazine, before Mahathir jailed him has stuck to his guns. It is simple for the 64-year-old Anwar. Just stick to priority for the prior, distribution of wealth and goodies on the basis of needs, keep the country open and make sure Malaysia is cleanly and transparently administered. The rest will fall in. Ii does appear simplistic compared to Najib's glitzy acronyms. But as economist point out, the essentials must be put in place first and foremost.
Malays already wising up
Can Najib and Umno ever afford to stop smearing Anwar? Already the Malays - the core electorate - are starting to compare Anwar with Najib, Umno with Pakatan. Indeed, it is very easy for the Malays to swing to Anwar's side. He used to be the darling of their community until Mahathir hatched the Sodomy I conspiracy against him. Even then, Mahathir had to resign and Umno was split down the line.
After Anwar was acquitted and decided to return to active politics, Najib knew he had to keep drumming up sexual accusations against Anwar to keep the seeds of doubts alive. Hence, Nalla, Ezam, Ummi and not to mention the Datuk T trio. But Najib is foolish. Or maybe he just doesn't wish to admit that his plan - his one and only remaining bullet - is not working. Look at the Datuk T sex video which was played out daily in the mainstream newspapers and on TV. What did it do for Najib except consolidate the image that he and Umno know nothing but "sex, sex, sex".
If Najib is smart, he would notice the cheer that was raised all around the nation and the world when Anwar was found not guilty of Sodomy II. And be afraid, very afraid.
Najib is the proverbial boy who cried wolf. From Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the Sodomy II complainant, to the Datuk T trio and thence to the Nalla-Ezam-Ummi group, his gutter strategies have failed and will continue to backfire - eating away at his own credibility.The good thing for Anwar and the Pakatan is that Najib is too foolish to even realize it.
Malaysia Chronicle

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