A silent Prime Minister confounds the nation

The Malaysian Insider
Jul 12, 2013

NEWS ANALYSIS – Eventually it will happen. Not today, not next week, not even next month. But there will come a time when Malaysians will ask this question: for how long more is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak going to stay silent during roiling debates on the most important issues facing the country?

And then there will come a time when Malaysians will just stop expecting any intervention from the man who occupies Putrajaya; when the mandate he won on May 5 will not matter and Barisan Nasional’s intellectual heft or the last word on government policy will be what the likes of Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam throw at us daily.

Sad but true, isn’t it?

This is what we know about Malaysia since Election 2013:

* The country’s household debt is dangerously high, and those in Malaysia’s lower income bracket are suffocating under a mountain of debt.

* The slowing economy of China presents major challenges for all trading nations, even Malaysia which is dependent on China as a market for oil palm, among other goods.

* Despite all the talk about moving Malaysia up the income chain, the government’s minimum wage policy is mired in confusion – some companies are still exempt.

* The government’s retirement policy, now at 60 years of age to retain talent, is also now seeing exceptions.

* All is not well on the race relations front. The bill which would have allowed the consent of one parent for the conversion of a child to Islam has been withdrawn but raw feelings about the manner in which it was introduced and then withdrawn remain. Non-Muslims are upset that the Cabinet tried to ram through the law without consultation while Muslims see the flip-flopping as a sign of a government in retreat.

* There does not appear to be collective responsibility in the Cabinet. Last year, Najib said the Sedition Act will be replaced by the National Harmony Act but Home Minister Zahid Hamidi believes he is not bound by the decision of the Cabinet.

Simply put, the country has been adrift for awhile. But the PM has chosen the option of silence, which, for a leader, is no option at all. The more controversial the issue, the less likelihood of anyone seeing Najib’s footprint in the debate.

His aides and supporters say that he believes in moderation and that behind closed doors he is full of ideas on helping all Malaysians. Really? How about making public those points? What does he think of the conversion bill? Has he read the riot act to Zahid for breaking ranks with him on the Sedition Act? Has he had a re-think about abolishing certain laws, given the pushback from Umno?

Najib was briefed by Datuk Seri Idris Jala’s brains trust recently on the education system and the need for English to become a big part of teaching here. What are the Prime Minister’s thoughts on this proposal?

Pre-election Najib was advised that staying clear of hot button issues was smart politics and would guarantee self-preservation. Post-election Najib should realise that that policy landed him in no-man’s land. He won, but without a strong enough mandate.

Staying silent and letting Zahid Hamidi, Wan Junaidi and their ilk set the national agenda is just setting up Najib for a big fall. Maybe not next week, or next month but eventually. – July 12, 2013.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Friday, 12 July 2013 - 9:43 pm

    From day 1 he took office, it confounds me how Najib’s personal popularity could rise and continue to stay higher even as his party’s popularity continued to sink to historical lows.

    The worst leaders are not those who sits at one end of the spectrum or the other, the worst leaders are those that don’t sit ANYWHERE in the spectrum – and that is precisely what Najib sits – he is not better than his party, HE IS WORST, much more so..

  2. #2 by good coolie on Friday, 12 July 2013 - 9:56 pm

    Wait till the UMNO assembly is over!

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Friday, 12 July 2013 - 11:26 pm

    His silence is deafening. It is surely not the market of a leader. A leader leads, not stay in the background and get his speechwriters to come out with something ‘intelligent’. Hearing his ‘words of wisdom’ over the internet really wants to make me puke. How can you all stand it when you are all right there ?

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Friday, 12 July 2013 - 11:29 pm

    I really think Najib has lost his script. He just really does not know what to do so he muddles along.

    Or is he just a plain COWARD?

  5. #5 by Cinapek on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 1:29 am

    We have an ostrich PM. If there are any tough issues coming, he buries his head in the sand and hope it goes away.

  6. #6 by Noble House on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 2:48 am

    For Najib, it is a case of “When in doubt chicken out.”

    Nothing wrong with cowardice as long as it comes with prudence. But when a coward stops remembering who he is… God help him!

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 4:34 am

    His idea of the voice of moderation to drown that of extremism is paradoxically by way of a deafening silence…

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 8:27 am

    The greatest confounding emerges when Najib displays his chameleon skill!

  9. #9 by Mist on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 9:16 am

    Najib’s strategy from the day he hired his image consultant was to create a cult figure or something close. Something that people can look up to in awe. This work in a country or society that are closed and whose minds are manipulated by the daily feeding of feel-good nonsense through the media. Country such as North korea came quickly to mind.

    Malaysia while having a controlled mass media also have alternative in the internet.

    Najib’s silence is not a noble silence of Buddha but an ignoble and strategic silence….the result is a half-baked wish-washy persona.

  10. #10 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 12:05 pm

    When he is feeling the heat at home and does not know what to say or do, he goes overseas like to Tanzania and our British colony to tokok there. Then he and the missus goes for a shopping holiday to the south of France and Milan. Then he suddenly comes home as a ‘hero’.

  11. #11 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 12:08 pm

    The ‘ voice of moderation’ is only some noise nothing more. Where is the intention, the deed and the result?

  12. #12 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Saturday, 13 July 2013 - 12:25 pm

    Awwww man. Didnt I say this before. “W” is the shape of his tongue. One tip is being used to satisfy the ears of the people and the other, to satisfy the ears of umno idiots. So there, he has got everyone covered.

    That’s what he thought!

    The idiots in umno no longer not listen to him. Neither does the rest of the people who are outside umno. So I supposed he is really down the the slit between the tips in his “W” shaped tongue – an area which I suspect at best could only make a strange “hissssssssing” noise.

    So any wonder why he has gone all quiet?

  13. #13 by mauriyaII on Sunday, 14 July 2013 - 12:06 pm

    The 1 Malaysia cult figure is in a dilemma. He is confused as to who he should please, the citizens of the country or the rabid UMNOputras who seem to be calling the shots with the Mamak Kutty in the background pulling all the strings.

    He may want to do what is just and right but that may ruin his chances of winning the UMNO president’s post if there is a rival. On the other hand he may think that since he is the PM, he can maintain his elegant silence on important matters and be an ostrich.

    Whatever he does is going to reflect upon his leadership qualities. History will judge him for what he did but SHOULD HAVE DONE for the country.

You must be logged in to post a comment.