Najib tries to move from zero to hero ahead of SRC trial

Chan Kok Leong Ragananthini Vethasalam

Former prime minister Najib Razak at his Langgak Duta home with the 'Malu apa bossku' slogan, which he coined for publicity purposes. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 6, 2019.

NAJIB Razak’s recent flurry of activity on social media and his frequent public appearances and statements are an attempt to regain lost popularity and divert attention from his corruption trial that will begin on February 12, said analysts.

“To remain relevant in the local political landscape, he has to shift public perception from seeing him as an offender to a hero.

“It would help him a lot if he can make them think that all the charges are politically motivated,” said Ilham Centre research chief and communications lecturer Dr Mohd Yusri Ibrahim.

Despite facing charges involving money-laundering, corruption and abuse of power that could lead to years of imprisonment, the former prime minister has been on a charm offensive, holding public meetings and campaigning for the Cameron Highlands by-election.

The former Barisan Nasional chairman and Umno president is currently touring Langkawi.

The one stark difference between Najib’s current publicity blitz and before his fall from power is the conspicuous absence of his wife, Rosmah Mansor, 65.

Najib has even coined the slogan “Malu apa bossku” (What’s there to be ashamed of, boss). At some functions, Najib told reporters that Malaysians now “miss his leadership”.

“Since the elections, he has lost a lot of support in Umno and among Malaysians,” said Yusri.

“But he has cleverly taken advantage of Pakatan Harapan’s failure to fulfil all its manifesto promises to reposition himself in the Malaysian political landscape,” said the Universiti Malaysia Terengganu lecturer.

Political analyst Associate Prof Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said Najib’s recent social media activities and public appearances have more to do with staying relevant to Malaysians than about his upcoming trial.

“It is a political strategy to demonise Pakatan Harapan and put it in a bad light in the current situation because of the failure of the PH leadership, especially the ministers who failed to deliver promises and address relevant issues, such as cost of living and reducing price of goods.”

Najib Razak campaigning in the Cameron Highlands by-election last month. The former BN chairman claims many Malaysians miss his leadership. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 6, 2019.

Former Umno deputy Youth chief Senator Khairul Azwan Harun said Najib’s popularity is an indication that the people are growing increasingly frustrated with the new government.

“For as long as cost of living is not lowered and segments of society continue to feel disenfranchised, the core frustrations with the government, no matter who is in charge, will remain,” Khairul said.

“Pakatan is beginning to recognise that it cannot make promises and get away with it. If you raise expectations too high, even the good work will turn out to be less than expected.”

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said Najib knows how to “fuel the people’s growing frustration with PH’s inability to fulfil some of its promises regarding cost of living and socio-economic issues”.

“He is obviously a street-smart politician who is capable of capitalising on his newfound popularity online,” said Khoo.

‘Likes’ do not mean forgiveness

But Yusri believes Najib’s popularity on social media does not necessarily mean Malaysians have forgiven him.

“Malaysians are supporting him on social media because there’s some truth in his postings. They are backing him because what he says resonates with them about the government’s performance.

“But I don’t think it’s the same as forgiving him for his scandals”

But PH will still have to be wary of an emboldened Najib, he said.

“The opposition (BN and PAS) will inevitably benefit when there’s dissatisfaction against the government and Najib is doing a good job at the moment.”

Still, Khairul said BN must not rely on Najib to raise its popularity and should instead focus on reinventing itself.

“We must not rely on Pakatan’s falling popularity to be relevant again.

“People must look to BN and recognise that we are committed to a change that is relevant and needed in the years to come.”

Najib’s first trial involving four charges of corruption involving SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), is fixed for February 12-28.

To date, along with former Treasury secretary-general Irwan Serigar Abdullah, former 1MDB chief executive officer Arul Kanda Kandasamy and spy chief Hasanah Abdul Hamid, Najib has been slapped with 42 charges related to 1MDB. – February 6, 2019.

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  • For those who see it as politically motivated, it shows how low our moral fibre is as a society

    Posted 5 years ago by Watchdog Watchdog · Reply

  • Tak tau malu!

    Posted 5 years ago by Chee yee ng · Reply