COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
20 August 2014
Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been the Malaysian prime minister for more than five years now but going by what his Cabinet colleagues say, the Pekan MP’s only success is handling the flight MH17 incident.
His cousin, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, said as much when defending Najib against stinging criticism from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, who stepped down in 2003.
Hishammuddin cited accomplishments, such as the handling of the remains from the MH17 incident, saying Najib succeeded where US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin had failed.
But the defence minister hastened to add that he respected Dr Mahathir’s views, similar to some of his Cabinet colleagues, who straddled the fence in saying that Najib and the blunt political veteran should be equally respected.
Most pro-Umno bloggers have kept mum on Dr Mahathir’s scathing assessment of Najib but some have added their two cents to what is seen as simmering grievances coming to boil.
And this is really the point of what Dr Mahathir finally said this week that ministers are missing.
Dr Mahathir’s criticism hit on substantive issues, such as race relations, crime and the economy – all hot-button issues that have been bubbling since he resigned 11 years ago.
Perhaps Dr Mahathir’s old-fashioned prescriptions of tough love might not find a place in a world where social media builds people up and bring them down in an instant.
But his concerns must be addressed. He didn’t build Malaysia to punch above its weight class and to be the top 20 trading nations in the world only to see a nation riven by hate and despair, where Malaysians return to racial silos and distrust each other.
So, it is really nauseating that ministers are trying to milk tragedy for political gain. It is also interesting that Hishammuddin talks about MH17 but no mention of the vanished flight
MH370, which is a more accurate barometer of the Najib administration.
You want another barometer of what people feel about the current government in Putrajaya? Dr Mahathir put it succinctly when he said he couldn’t imagine that Najib fared worse than Tun Abdullah Badawi.
That must have hurt more than Dr Mahathir saying he was cutting off his support for the country’s sixth prime minister.
Now, how do you respond to that stinger of a criticism? Not by just citing Najib’s handling of the flight MH17 incident but all the complaints made by Dr Mahathir and the rest of Malaysia – including revealing and sorting out shortcomings in handling flight MH370’s disappearance and the Sabah defence.
After all, Malaysians are the ones who will decide the next government. And Dr Mahathir has already proven that while he has no access to the mass media or government machinery, he has brought down at least two Umno presidents.
It is best to address the issues that Dr Mahathir has brought up and for the Najib administration to strengthen all his transformation programmes and show the results that will shut up his critics. – August 20, 2014.