Malaysia’s future leader hounded by accusations

By Julia Yeow
Deutsche presse-Agentur


‘I am hard-pressed to say this, but for these very reasons, I must say that Najib will surely split us, and in doing so, push us further into the pits,’ Zaid said in a public speech recently.

Kuala Lumpur – Barring divine intervention or an extremely well-hidden plan by his detractors, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak will be named Malaysia’s sixth prime minister in a matter of days.

Outgoing premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is scheduled to resign on Thursday, paving the way for his deputy to be sworn in at a date that has yet to be announced, but that could happen the very same day.

But the timing for Najib couldn’t be worse: he is taking over the leadership of a multi-party government coalition suffering from an all-time low public opinion, and a country already sinking in the fringes of a recession.

And to top it off, Najib’s own battles with controversies and scandals have dogged him and overshadowed what should have been a triumphant appointment.

The main controversy, and possibly the most damaging, is the alleged link between him and the gruesome murder of a Mongolian beauty in 2006.

Altantuya Shaarribuu, then 28, was shot and her body blown up with military-grade explosives. Police found her remains on a remote hill outside the capital Kuala Lumpur.

Both media and public attention to the case reached fever pitch when prominent political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, also a close friend and aide of Najib, was detained for his role in the woman’s death.

Abdul Razak was cleared of all charges last year, but allegations of links between Najib and the victim remained, a claim vehemently denied by the deputy premier.

Even after Najib swore his innocence on the Muslim holy book of the Quran in an elaborate ceremony, opposition members and bloggers have been relentless in their accusations.

During a by-election in the northern Penang state last year, thousands of opposition supporters chanted the murder victim’s name over and over every time Najib appeared.

Such embarrassing incidents are surely not going to stop once he becomes prime minister.

’For Najib to simply deny that he is not in any way involved with the murder or attribute evil motives on his critics – his current strategy – will not cut it,’ said prominent political commentator M Bakri Musa.

’Najib has to assure Malaysians that his personal integrity is beyond reproach,’ Bakri said in his blog.

But the Mongolian murder, coupled with rampant rumours of corruption involving several arms deals while Najib was defence minister, continue to shadow Najib’s denials and attempts at projecting a clean image.

According to independent pollster Merdeka Centre, Najib’s popularity rating currently stands at 41 per cent, compared to the 46-per-cent rating of his predecessor Abdullah, who was hounded from office.

Najib’s problems don’t stop at just a low popularity rating. He will be taking over at a time when Malaysia is experiencing increasing unemployment and dwindling economic growth.

Najib, 55, the son of a former prime minister, himself acknowledged that he would be taking over in ‘critical times.’

Earlier this month, he announced a whopping 60-billion-ringgit (16.1 billion dollars) stimulus package aimed at lifting the country out of an increasingly serious economic crisis.

However, the supplemental budget failed to impress, as economists say allocations in the package would not likely do much to boost the ailing economy, and instead raise the fiscal deficit to a projected 7.6 per cent of gross domestic product, from 4.8 per cent last year.

’These are extremely difficult times. Malaysia needs a leader that can unite this country which is facing hard times,’ said Zaid Ibrahim, a former minister in Abdullah’s cabinet who was fired from the ruling party after he attended an opposition-organized event recently.

’I am hard-pressed to say this, but for these very reasons, I must say that Najib will surely split us, and in doing so, push us further into the pits,’ Zaid said in a public speech recently.

The opposition warned that Najib’s ascension to premiership also signaled a crackdown on dissent and freedom of opinion, citing his hand in a controversial takeover of Perak, one of the opposition-ruled states, earlier this year.

‘Severe repressive measures may be the hallmark of Najib’s ascendancy to premiership,’ said Tian Chua, the information chief of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party.

Lim Kit Siang, veteran leader of the opposition Democratic Action Party, said that Najib’s premiership could unite Malaysians in their distrust of the scandal-hounded leader.

’It is a most significant political phenomenon that many Malaysians, transcending the political divide, are wondering whether there is any way to stop Najib from becoming prime minister until he comes clean,’ Lim said.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 - 9:06 am

    Zaid is right. Its already in the cards..

    Najib’s plan to expand the electoral voters for UMNO General Assembly to 60,000 will eventually see the ultras and religious zealots taking over the party. It may not happen during his tenure but eventually it will. The zealots will then coopt PAS supporters and lead this country into a mess.

  2. #2 by ALLAN THAM on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 - 9:44 am

    Many know exactly what happen. But they could not doing anything. There mere fact that they have come such an extent to ban the mention of that beauty name tell ALL.

  3. #3 by AhPek on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 - 9:51 am

    From Najib’s age one is certain he has gone thro the education system of the colonial days.Quite a few of us have and all of us have certainly come across that giant in English literature Shakespeare.I now quote Shakespeare in King Henry 1V Part 11 ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’.Najib is currently in this position as long as he makes no attempt to come clean from the story of his involvement in the murder of this Mongolian lady.He just can’t exorcise the Altantuya ghost by banning the mention of that name,suspending Gobind Singh
    for 1 year without pay and in the days to come the mere mention of her name
    might earn one an extended stay in Taiping’s famous 5 STAR HOTEL.
    This type of exorcising simply will not work,it will go even further eating into his conscience and soul.The only way is Tengku Razaleigh’s recommendations to him.Go to the jurisdictions of the various foreign newspaper and charge.

  4. #4 by passerby on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 - 10:05 am

    So Malaysia has finally beaten Zimbabwe by go to have a prime minister who may have something to do with the death of Mongolian woman by the name of ?????. Sorry can’t mention her name here, the police has ordered!!!

    You may silence the people here but you cannot stop the world from mentioning your name and her name. The world has already published your story in their news paper and let see how many of them will wish you or shake your dirty hand on your appointment as the prime minister of the country.

  5. #5 by k1980 on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 - 10:45 am

    Now that the Altan… word is forbidden to be mentioned, it will also be illegal to mention the 41 per cent popularity rating. Next, whenever his name is spoken, the person saying the words must clasp his hands together in respect in the manner of the ancient Chinese people whenever they mention their emperor.

  6. #6 by taikohtai on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 - 1:59 pm

    Killer PM Lyrics (apologies to
    The BEETS)

    Fast money feels fuzzy
    Cause it’s made from stuff that’s skuzzy
    I always thought I was such a nerd
    I refused to listen to that useless turd
    I wouldn’t listen to it, WOW!But it hates you!
    Ah eeh ooh, Killer PM. (Eeyae.)
    Oooh eeh ooh, Killer PM!

  7. #7 by Eddie on Wednesday, 1 April 2009 - 8:46 pm

    let him be sworn in as P.M. (Prime Murderer)

  8. #8 by La Pax on Thursday, 2 April 2009 - 11:07 am

    wow IMO

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