Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's penchant for lavish year-end holidays abroad showed his indifference towards the hardship felt by Malaysians, said Kuala Terengganu MP Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad.
While recognising Najib's right to go on holiday with his family, Raja Kamarul Bahrin said the public the premier should only do so at an appropriate time.
"The point is, do it at his own expense and his own time with some sensitivity to the stark hard reality the rakyat is facing today.
"Does the prime minister realise the hard times that has befallen the country as amongst other many rising costs, he himself approved the recent petrol price increase," said Raja Kamarul Bahrin in a statement today.
He said that while Najib and his family were enjoying themselves abroad, the public were struggling with floods, back to school expenses and harsher scrutiny on income tax collections, among other issues.
Raja Kamarul Bahrin was responding to Rizal Mansor, the aide to Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor, who defended the premier for taking his family for a year-end holiday in Australia.
Rizal said Najib only gets to spend about 10 full days with his family every year and that they should be allowed to spend "quality time" together.
Removed from hard realities
To Raja Kamarul Bahrin, the "quality time" argument was flawed because the "basic survival" of Malaysian families were currently at stake due to poor governance.
"That is why Najib's indifference and constant denial attitude are causing much hardship for the rakyat. Until and unless he can associate and try to imagine the rakyat's plight and sufferings, he can never possibly fathom the depth of the country's problems.
"How can he possibly imagine their plight when he remains removed and aloof above their hardship today?" asked
Najib appeared to be removed from the "hard realities" faced by the public and he should show more responsibility by emulating leaders of neighbouring nations such as Joko Widodo and Lee Hsien Loong.
"They travel on commercial airlines on their private trips on their own times and expenses even when the economy is doing well.
"These are real leaders who are 'berjiwa rakyat' (one with the people), unlike ours who take the occasional stroll in the market and claim to be so.
"We are facing hard times and please be a little bit more sensitive and spend the rakyat's money wisely. Don’t adopt the attitude of 'what is yours is mine, what is mine is mine!'," he said.
Earlier, Malaysiakini had reported that the government's jet with the registration number 9M-NAA was spotted in Australia, coinciding with Najib's trip there from Dec 22 to Jan 3.