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Saturday, March 30, 2019

CURIOUS TO MEET THE ‘BOSSKU’ SET TO MAKE HISTORY AS THE FIRST M’SIAN PM TO GO TO JAIL FOR STEALING, KELANTAN FOLK GREET NAJIB – BUT ARE THEY REALLY WILLING TO ALIGN ISLAM WITH KLEPTOCRACY NO MATTER HOW DESPERATE ‘RM90 MILLION’ HADI & CO BECOME

VOTERS and local political activists had mixed feelings about Najib Razak’s visit to the PAS stronghold of Kelantan yesterday, just four days before the former prime minister goes on trial for the first of many corruption cases against him.
Although several voters were positive towards him, others said Najib simply wanted to test his popularity among Malays just days before his trial is set to begin.
“It looks like he wants to gauge people’s support towards him,” said PAS Kg Chempaka branch chief Rosli Yusof in Kota Baru, the state’s capital.
Rosli does not think Najib’s visit will strengthen ties between Umno and PAS grassroots members, even though this has occurred in two previous by-elections.
“Najib’s image is tarnished. If they want cooperation between PAS and Umno, it should be without Najib.”  
Najib, who was also former Umno president, was slapped with 42 charges of corruption, abuse of power and money laundering related to billions of ringgit allegedly stolen from state firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) where he was the chief advisor.
On Wednesday, he will face his first trial for allegedly misappropriating RM42 million from 1MDB subsidiary SRC International.
Locals in Kelantan who met Najib yesterday said they were awed by the former prime minister despite the slew of corruption charges against him.
Supporters taking photos with former prime minister Najib Razak at a night market in Bachok, Kelantan yesterday. Some PAS grassroots leaders are doubtful about the party's cooperation with long-time rival Umno. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, March 30, 2019.
Supporters taking photos with former prime minister Najib Razak at a night market in Bachok, Kelantan yesterday. Some PAS grassroots leaders are doubtful about the party’s cooperation with long-time rival Umno. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, March 30, 2019.
Firdaus Ahmad, for instance, said he missed Najib’s administration, which he described as generous and caring as compared to the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government.
“It’s good that he came to see the rakyat and listened to our grouses. He has the right to go anywhere because even though he has all these court cases, he has not been convicted,”   said the 25-year-old Firdaus.
Rosmah Hamid wished Najib will one day return as prime minister.
“When he was prime minister, he looked after us. We got BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) not like right now. Things are hard now. We can’t get anything we ask for. Allowances for fishermen are cut. Life right now is harder than under BN,” said the 46-year-old.
The PH administration has replaced BR1M with the Bantuan Sara Hidup allowance, which has tighter conditions and reduced payouts.
“People say he started the 1MDB scandal but we should not be quick to judge,” said Rosmah.
Osman Ali, however, said that all the attention that Najib is getting does not necessarily mean he is popular.
“People just came to have a look at him but it does not mean they support him. Afterall, people want to come and see a former prime minister,”   said the 44-year-old.
Yuni Zulkifli, 28, said Najib has to clear his name in court.
“If he is found guilty, he should be punished, but if he is innocent, his name should be cleared.”
Former prime minister Najib Razak during a walkabout at a night market in Bachok, Kelantan yesterday. Some in Kelantan say life was easier under his government and they wouldn't mind seeing him returned to power. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, March 30, 2019.
Former prime minister Najib Razak during a walkabout at a night market in Bachok, Kelantan yesterday. Some in Kelantan say life was easier under his government and they wouldn’t mind seeing him returned to power. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, March 30, 2019.
Najib visited Kelantan after a purportedly successful trip to Terengganu last week. Both states are ruled by PAS, a former rival of Umno.
PAS has ruled Kelantan since 1990, while it retook Terengganu for a second time in the 14th general election last year.
Kelantan PAS activist Mohamad Anuar Mohamad Nor is sceptical of Umno’s overtures to PAS.
“I have asked PAS leaders what guarantees are there that the party will not be exploited if both Umno and PAS win in the 15th general election. They cannot give me an answer.”
Anuar’s distrust stems from his personal experience of watching teachers who did not support BN get transferred out before GE14.
“This actually happened. Teachers who supported PAS were called up and told to become speakers at BN ceramah. In the run-up to GE14, there were attempts to transfer teachers who were PAS sympathisers. But this was stopped when PH came into power.”
However, Anuar said he will abide by his party’s decision in spite of his personal doubts about Umno.
Kelantan PAS youth chief Ahmad Fadli Shaari welcomed Najib’s visit, saying that it was a “friendly visit”.
“PAS supporters have no problems with Najib. This visit will strengthen Umno and PAS ties at the grassroots level ahead of the general election. God willing, Umno will no longer fight with PAS.”

Najib testing ‘bossku’ brand, PAS-Umno union in Kelantan

NAJIB Razak took his “bossku” campaign to the PAS fortress of Kelantan – to rebrand himself into a hero of the Malays and to court the Islamist party’s supporters ahead of his corruption trial next week and at the 15th general election.
Political analysts said the trip to Kelantan, which PAS has controlled for nearly three decades, was also part of Umno’s plan to win over the Islamist party’s hardcore supporters to the idea of a new Barisan Nasional-PAS pact for GE15.
Najib’s critics said he will benefit immensely from such a pact. However, it remains to be seen whether Najib can convince PAS’ most ardent supporters to buy into the idea given that his name is tied to the globe-spanning 1MDB scandal.
At its most basic level, the “Malu Apa Bossku” roadshows are about re-inventing Najib’s image, said political scientist Tunku Mohar Mohd Mokhtar.
“In that sense, personally I think this is part of his public relations campaign. After all, his strategy has always been ‘brand Najib’.”
Another political scientist, Awang Azman Awang Pawi, said the trip was part of Najib’s plan to eventually return to mainstream politics by courting working-class Malay voters.
“If you look at it, this is why he does things like going on a motorbike. This is to endear himself to the working-class because middle-class Malays have rejected him,” said Awang Azman from Universiti Malaya.
Najib is currently facing 42 charges of corruption, abuse of power and money laundering related to billions of ringgit allegedly stolen from state firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), where he was the chief advisor when he was prime minister.
His first trial for allegedly misappropriating RM42 million from 1MBD subsidiary SRC International is scheduled to begin this Wednesday.
Mending a historic animosity
Najib was in Kota Baru yesterday, where he visited the Kelantan Umno headquarters and held a meet-the-people session in the Siti Khatijah market.
He was also the VIP at a Muay Thai boxing competition in Pantai Irama, Bachok. Najib will return to Kuala Lumpur today and is scheduled to continue his “bossku” roadshow in several coastal districts in Selangor tomorrow.
Mazlan Ali of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said Najib is attempting to expand the “bossku” brand to Malay heartland areas after seeing its success in two by-elections this year, where his events drew sizable crowds of young Malays.
“He wanted to test the ‘bossku’ brand in a state which is deeply religious and also Umno’s influence post-GE14.”  
Former prime minister Najib Razak greeting supporters at a mosque in Kota Baru, Kelantan. Najib is reinventing himself into a people's person with the 'bossku' brand. – The Malaysian Insight pic, March 30, 2019.
Former prime minister Najib Razak greeting supporters at a mosque in Kota Baru, Kelantan. Najib is reinventing himself into a people’s person with the ‘bossku’ brand. – The Malaysian Insight pic, March 30, 2019.
Mazlan said the event was also a way to bring the PAS grassroots closer to Umno as their ties are still weak in these states due to the historic rivalry between the two parties.
All the analysts told The Malaysian Insight they were sceptical that Najib could bridge the chasm between the supporters of both parties in Kelantan given their painful history.
PAS broke away from the BN federal government in 1978 after the latter declared a state of emergency in Kelantan.
And in the 25 years that the state government was headed by Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat starting in 1990, the PAS spiritual leader had instilled a deep distrust towards Umno.
“The grassroots in Kelantan has a long history of adversary, and their target audience is the same,” said IIUM’s Tunku Mohar.
“I believe success depends on how PAS Kelantan leadership’s reception to Najib. The grassroots in Kelantan are waiting for such signal, and will follow the leadership.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

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