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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Najib’s poking fun at PH on Facebook to stay relevant, say analysts

Former prime minister Najib Razak has constantly criticised the present administration on social media.
PETALING JAYA: Analysts believe that former prime minister Najib Razak is taking pot shots and poking fun at Pakatan Harapan (PH) on social media as a way to stay active in politics.
Speaking to FMT, Oh Ei Sun from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said in Malaysian politics, it was important to remain relevant and visible as there might be sudden “reversals of political fortune”.
“Najib obviously still has a sophisticated team of researchers assisting him in responding to issues, testifying to his continued desire to be active in politics despite recent electoral setbacks,” the analyst said.
After his party and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition were booted out of power in the May 9 polls, Najib, who was relatively silent prior to that, took to social media, particularly Facebook, to voice his disagreements with some of PH’s policies.
These would be peppered with dry humour, sarcasm, screenshots of media reports, edited pictures and old videos of PH vouching for issues which they seemed to be silent on now or contradicting their earlier stand.
The posts have seen various reactions from the public. Most social media users would join in the fun and highlight similar concerns or issues they have with PH’s announcements. Najib is also active on Twitter.
Oh, however, questioned how long this “momentum” would last, referring to the charges filed against Najib and the recent exodus of Umno leaders.
Najib is facing almost 40 charges while 37 MPs from Umno, of which Najib was formerly president, have left the party which won 54 federal seats in the May general election.
James Chin from the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute told FMT that the “only reason” Najib is active online is because he no longer has access to government events where he can meet and speak with his supporters.
He said it was good for the opposition for Najib to remain active on social media, saying he remained a “key voice” on “contemporary issues”. But this would not help him change the people’s views of him, Chin said.
“People like his social media postings because they like his sarcasm and wit over PH’s ‘U-turns’. I can tell you that his social media will probably change in content once his trial starts early next year.”
A three-week trial will take place from April 15 onwards to hear Najib’s 21 money laundering charges and four charges of power abuse linked to state-investment firm 1MDB. Another corruption trial is set from February to March.
A recent Facebook posting of Najib’s which made the rounds was where he highlighted a statement from the franchise owner of Kentucky Fried Chicken which stated that its products saw a price hike to account for the new sales and services tax.
Najib also regularly belittles federal ministers and leaders in PH, including Education Minister Maszlee Malik and his decision to introduce black shoes for students. Others frequently targeted by him are Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and DAP’s Tony Pua.
Political geo-strategist Azmi Hassan from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, on the other hand, said Najib did not just poke fun as his postings included statistics and facts which were “quite difficult to contradict”.
“I think other Umno politicians should follow suit in how Najib conducts himself on social media. Commentary can get you through to your targeted audience if the message is easy to digest and has some humour here and there.
“I don’t think this modus operandi will change the voters’ perception towards him drastically but Najib has gained some positive traction with his posts,” he said, adding that Umno might also benefit from this trend.
This is because the former regime, which Najib led for two terms, will be seen as “more efficient” than the current government.
Chin, however, disagreed with the observation and said a majority of those in Umno did not want to have anything to do with Najib.
Meanwhile, Awang Azman Awang Pawi from Universiti Malaya told FMT that Najib’s sarcastic tone in his social media postings was a way to gain sympathy among members of the public.
However, he said humour would not be able to do this forever.
“The 1MDB issue is not something that can be easily covered up with Najib’s humour. The same thing with the issues which led the public to feel angry and reject BN in the last general election.”
Awang Azman said the public would get bored if Najib only made an issue out of PH’s decisions, adding that the former premier’s postings would not bring him back to power or impact his trials.
“(The only effect towards voters’ perception is) that a lot of people will think that Najib needs to focus on his court cases and hand over the task of attacking PH to the Umno leaders not linked with 1MDB and other issues.” -FMT

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