It is not logical for BN (National Front), a coalition of component parties of essentially three races in Malaysia under Najib to have performed worse in GE13 than his immediate predecessor, Abdullah Badawi. Though we must admit that the slide started to emerge during the latter’s tenure. Najib appears to have accomplished more in terms of growth as evidenced by positive economic data and the vibrant stock market.
The greatest mistake Badawi did was to abolish PPSMI (Teaching science and mathematics in English) after some half baked so-called nationalists, one of the prominent ones has now joined Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance), organised street demonstrations calling for PPSMI’s demise. The abolition angers parents of all races mostly in the urban areas. He was given a big mandate in 2004 by the electorate who expected him to move forward and not backward. This is the 21th century for God’s sake!
When Najib took over, parents were hopeful that he would reinstate PPSMI but instead he chose to be silent, yes ,deafeningly silent. This strange “leadership” style shown by Najib is noted across other major issues. Some of which include the cowgate scandal of UMNO Women Head Shahrizat’s family, Lynas in Pahang (his home state),MAS-Air Asia share swap, civil servants’ new remuneration package (the failed SBPA) and the poor handling of the Lahad Datu Stand-off resulting in unnecessary deaths of Malaysian security personnel and several other issues.
Najib was slow to respond and not decisive enough and does not show strong leadership. You have to look at his non-verbal language during his interactions with people to see his “upper-crust” laidback,no sense of urgency-behaviour. He looks like a fairweather leader. My perception is he is used to having things easily and his unhurried manner is typical of someone who cannot understand the need to address problems fast because in his privileged worldview, problems always solve themselves.
I have sat in a couple of meetings chaired by Najib and I observed the way he conducts the interactions, kind of laid back with natural resistance to go into greater details. His manner was to me as if he wished he was somewhere else. The way he sat throughout the meetings looked like Malaysia was a company belonging to his father. Kind of bourgeoisie.
His attempts to work the crowd seemed out of place. One example is the embarrassing encounter with the hostile horde in Penang during Psy’s concert. It does look like when BN is sponsoring a big function, it has to bring in celebrities to attract the crowd to fill up the venue unlike the opposition’s function where droves of people turn up voluntarily. They swarm and not trickling in. BN, on the other hand, just does not have the leaders who are magnetic.
It would as well have helped Najib politically and socially if his wife had been more down to earth, supporting him rather than appearing to promote herself. Remind me of the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
Najib’s Transformation Programmes are admirable in its intention. Economic data attested to some of the programmes’ success. His 1Malaysia concept looked promising but unfortunately it remains a slogan as he fails to focus on the practical outcomes. And his Deputy declaring publicly that he is a Malay first and a Malaysian second really did not go down well with the people especially the majority Chinese.
In his efforts to win the people in the run-up of the GE13, he made the mistake of establishing 1Malaysia clinics in the urban areas causing so much unhappiness among the private doctors who are mostly Chinese or Indians in those areas. It was as if their livelihood is being severed. The doctors’ grouses were never addressed and the MCA- man who was the Health Minister did not advise Najib on this harrowing policy affecting a large group of general practitioners. Imagine all those long-serving private doctors taking out their silent anger on BN! And no wonder MCA is practically decimated.
The establishment of PERKASA, the extremist Malay organisation is a terrible tragedy especially when it was supported by the former PM Mahathir. The pronouncements of its leaders were often hurtful to the non-Malays but Najib chose to be stangely silent as if tacitly supporting extremism. He did not come forward to defend in the spirit of being a Malaysian and this was deeply felt by the Chinese. Do you blame them? Put yourself in their shoes. I find UMNO’s handling of issues related to PERKASA to be demonstrative of a glaring lack of empathy.
The Allah’s issue is another contentious factor and instead of allaying the fear of Non-Muslims, Najib seemed to be hoping that the issue would go away. In fact at other instances he seemed to declare that his government would fight against the court’s decision to enable Christians to use the word. Well, PM Najib, you can consider yourself lucky that issue was not really politicised in Sabah and Sarawak because before they even joined Malaysia the Christian natives there have been addressing their God as Allah! Otherwise more seats in East Malaysia would have gone to any party except the one led by you further weakening your position.
There are many other issues that PM Najib did not seem to step forward as a leader is expected to. He doesn’t inspire unity of races even though he speaks many times about it.
And those pre-election gifting of free money to the so-called poor are shamefully populist because of the timing. Many perceived them as a form of public bribery on a grand scale. The million could have been used to give regular school meal programmes especially to the poor in both urban and rural areas, equipping schools with more amenities replacing all those old equipment in all hospitals, building more public areas for recreation sports and provision of free wireless facilities in public areas. This kind of fund utilisation is more encompassing, more caring and sincere in its approach to helping the community of Malaysians as a whole.
Najib has now promised to be the Prime Minister for all Malaysians. Mr Prime Minister, Sir, stop pontificating and walk the talk.