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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Najib draws attention to Muhyiddin's racial glow with Malay-first M'sian-second talk

Najib draws attention to Muhyiddin's racial glow with Malay-first M'sian-second talk

Amid growing talk of a power challenge with the UMNO party, Prime Minister Najib Razak raised eyebrows with comments that some see as deliberately highlighting perceived racial bias his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin.

At the 5th Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit on Sunday, the PM was asked if he saw himself as Malay-first and Malaysian-second or vice-versa. Muhyiddin had kicked up a huge storm of anger amongst the non-Malays when he said a year ago that he was Malay-first and Malaysian-second.

Despite the jeers, the move helped Muhyiddin to gain favour with some of the Malay electorate and also with the right-wing faction in UMNO. It was Najib who had to back off his multi-racial 1 Malaysia slogan and New Economic Model.

"I won't respond in a way that will divide me and my deputy. In Malaysia, that can be very dangerous. People will say, look here, the prime minister and his deputy are not on the same page," Najib said in answer to a question from the audience.

The door is half closed

Indeed, his roundabout way of answering the question by drawing in Muhyiddin confirmed swirling speculation that influential former premier Mahathir Mohamad had decided to back Muhyiddin, which means Najib is not likely to remain as UMNO president and prime minister for a second term. UMNO party polls are due to take place next year.

It is also believed that both he and his wife Rosmah Mansor do not want to call snap polls but other factions in his party fear that rising prices and a soft economy might cause the UMNO votes.

The 58-year old Najib also insisted that 1 Malaysia was still alive, but sadly for him, few Malaysians see it as anything more than a talking or reference point. Racial polarization has increased in the past 2 years of Najib's rule. He himself says different things to different audiences.

The most telling barometer is the UMNO-owned Utusan, which reports directly to Najib for editiorial guidance. In the past two years, Utusan has been condemned for stirring up all sorts of racial and religious bigotry.

The most recent attack was against DAP videographer Chan Lilian, whom Utusan accused of inciting hatred amongst the Christians.

"Take it from me: 1Malaysia is still our guiding philosophy, fair and guided by our constitution," said Najib, steering clear away from definitive statements.

- Malaysia Chronicle

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