Archive for December 14th, 2011

Glum economic outlook nudges Najib closer to polls

By Clara Chooi | December 14, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak may have to rush into elections within three months, analysts have predicted, due to a bleak economic outlook and a world backdrop that is more hostile towards “strongmen and corrupt establishments”.

“The economic dynamics will be most crucial in determining the election (timing), and the window is narrowing,” one analyst, Singapore Management University associate professor Bridget Welsh, told Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper in a report published today.

The article noted that Malaysia’s economy is expected to expand by just three per cent next year, according to Nomura International, well below this year’s targeted 4.7 per cent growth rate and the government’s five per cent forecast.

Others have also noted that Malaysia’s rising federal debt load and over-reliance on commodity exports could see the country’s economy hit the hardest among its Southeast Asian neighbours.
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Najib risks Malaysia’s reputation in his treatment of Anwar Ibrahim

By Simon Tisdall | 13 December 2011
The Guardian

The portents do not look good for Malaysia’s opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, whose trial on highly dubious sodomy charges draws to a close this week. If Anwar is found guilty – and the trial judge seems to have made up his mind already – he will not be the only or even the most important victim of an egregious, politically suspect injustice. Malaysia’s democratic reputation will have been critically wounded, and for that outrage, Malaysians will have their prime minister, Najib Razak, to thank.

The plodding Najib’s overriding objective is winning the general election expected next year, possibly within a few months. The son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, the nephew of its third, president of the dominant United Malays National Organisation (Umno), and a former defence minister, Najib was born to power and is accustomed to wielding it. As the charismatic leader of the opposition coalition, Anwar represents the biggest challenge to his continuing ascendancy.

It hardly seems coincidental that the sodomy charges were levelled at Anwar shortly after the opposition inflicted unprecedented defeats on Umno and its allies in the 2008 elections. Anwar’s main campaign plank – combating the official, institutionalised discrimination that favours ethnic Malays over the country’s large ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities – threatened the post-colonial order that has kept Umno and its National Front coalition on top since 1957.
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