BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
January 20, 2014
It doesn’t seem to be getting any better for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak after a week of being ridiculed for talking about falling vegetable prices amid rising living costs.
There is talk among the Umno elite of moves to push out the party president, who won more seats for the party but also lost more for Barisan Nasional (BN) in Election 2013. His men also swept the party elections last December but his position now looks shaky as dissent rises inside and outside Umno.
And yesterday, the boos were louder than the cheers when Najib presented the winner’s medal to badminton star Datuk Lee Chong Wei when won his 10th Malaysian Open singles title in Kuala Lumpur.
On the same day, the Umno-owned Berita Minggu carried an interview with Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir who expressed concern that the ruling BN might lose in the 14th general election if Putrajaya continued implementing unpopular decisions.
“Defeat is a real possibility if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continues with his present policy of correct but unpopular decisions, especially issues concerning the rising cost of living.”
“If Putrajaya continues to ignore the rakyat’s grouses and complaints, Barisan Nasional will find the 14th general election a tough nut to crack,” the youngest son of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told the Malay daily which is controlled by Najib’s
On Saturday, former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin (pic, right) gave the same line in a closed-door briefing at the Merbok Umno division meeting in Dewan Kismec in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
Sources said the former Merbok MP was a guest of honour at the briefing where he spoke about Putrajaya’s failure to control goods prices or review highway toll agreements to extend concessions rather than allow charges to rise.
It is learnt Daim also criticised the Cabinet’s failure to explain issues, the government for cutting subsidies rather than cutting expenses for things that did not appear to benefit the people, and ignoring the fact that higher civil service wages and allowances would influence prices.
Sources said Daim predicted that BN would lose the elections if it was held now, saying it continued to rule due to Malay support, but Putrajaya had spent more to attract the Chinese vote to no avail as the community would not support it.
Najib is following the wants of advisers to determine policies which will bring loss to the Malays, a source quoted Daim as saying.
“The conclusion is… the government under PM’s leadership is not effective and will cause BN to lose power in administering the country in the coming elections,” he added.
But there is no bunker mentality yet in Putrajaya over such criticisms although the Prime Minister understands that there is unhappiness against the government’s efficiency arm Pemandu and the use of consultants, with critics urging Najib to take charge of the situation.
The view from Putrajaya is essentially this: the so-called critics are among those who fleeced the country with their policies and shenanigans while in power, so why should the PM or the cabinet take them so seriously?
But there are some in Umno who want him to go, believing that the next election will be lost because of rising cost and drift in the country’s leadership. They want someone better to take charge, said a Putrajaya insider, but not many names have cropped up as yet.
“They want him out sooner than later, how, nobody knows,” said a businessman with links to the Umno elite.
“So we wait and see if the boos can snowball to something bigger or Najib stays the course,” he added. – January 20, 2014.