NEWS ANALYSIS BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
January 16, 2014
Wow. The Umno members who rallied and tried to ring a fence round Datuk Seri Najib Razak to save him from further public ridicule over his ‘kangkung’ remarks, are incensed.
So incensed that it took a few days for them to feel “offended” enough to vent their anger against Machang Lubuk assemblyman Lee Khai Loon for allegedly making fun of their party president.
Everything about Umno these days is stage-managed and contrived. Even their anger.
On Sunday, Najib said that the government was never praised when the prices of goods went down. As an example, he noted that the price of kangkung had dropped. His speech at an event was uploaded onto YouTube and drew stinging criticism from netizens, with many pointing out the silliness of the PM using the cost of a vegetable which grew wildly by the road side as an example of government intervention.
For more than four days, Najib has been lampooned by a lot of Malaysians. Privately, even his partymen have been speaking about the PM’s growing ability to say the wrong things. To be fair, the kangkung line was a throwaway line that would have been glossed over under normal circumstances.
But these are not normal times. The cost of living is hurting middle Malaysia and the Najib administration’s response has been wholly unsatisfactory. Against this backdrop, the kangkung statement seemed like just another thoughtless remark by a BN leader.
So for the past few days, even the PM’s army of advisors and Umno supreme council have been standing on the sidelines as the kangkung statement spawned a cottage industry of one-liners, videos, etc.
So why did the Umno politicians finally decide to come out fighting so late?
This is how Putrajaya functions these days. Someone from Umno would have made some noise about the lack of support for the PM and this would have lit the fire under a member of PM’s entourage. Calls would then be made to MPs and other opinion makers to attack those who are ridiculing the PM.
The easiest target is always an Opposition member. Let’s be honest. The netizens own this kangkung thing, not some PKR assemblyman. The fact that this innocuous statement has caught the public’s attention indicates the PM’s current standing among many Malaysians.
Umno’s Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said that those who ridiculed Najib were deriding themselves. “Do you realise that you are ridiculing the leader of this nation? This means that you are ridiculing yourself, ” he said, after chairing a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
The MP may feel compelled to defend his party president. That is his right, but not everyone in Malaysia has the intelligence of an Umno member.
So he should marshall a more compelling argument than “do you realise that you are ridiculing the leader of this nation?”
You want the PM to be treated with respect and affection, a good starting point would be to advise Najib to start behaving and performing like a Prime Minister. – January 16, 2014.