Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Politics in Malaysia: Najib in overdrive!

(Article on Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak and Malaysia by The Economisi)


The Economist

Early elections are a possibility

Jan 20th 2011 | KUALA LUMPUR | from PRINT EDITION

IT IS rare when a few days pass without the prime minister, Najib Razak, announcing new and sometimes not so new projects under his vaunted Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). Last week saw 19 of them, from building a new “World-Class Data Centre Hub” to the creation of the Talent Corporation, “tasked to strategise and implement initiatives” to fill millions of supposed new jobs. Few areas of life are spared and acronyms and abbreviations proliferate. Thus a Wellness City is planned, and seven types of “high-demand” herbs will be cultivated under the aegis of the ECER, which, for those who have not kept up, is an NKEA in the ETP, the whole to be overseen by PEMANDU. You can, inevitably, follow it all on Twitter.

Mr Najib says the ETP is starting the year “with a bang by switching into overdrive”, part of a wider modernisation to win the Malaysian economy rich-world status by 2020. Yet the rush also looks part of a very different strategy: to win a general election which the prime minister may call this year, perhaps as early as in the spring, despite not having to go to the polls until 2013.

It reflects Mr Najib’s political weaknesses as much as his strengths. He did not win his mandate as prime minister at the polls. Rather, he owes his position to an internal coup within the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), that saw him take over from his former boss, Abdullah Badawi, in April 2009. Mr Badawi was blamed by party bigwigs for the big losses that UMNO suffered at the general election in 2008. The party, the biggest in a coalition called Barisan Nasional (BN), retained power, but for the first time since independence in 1957 the BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament. Although the government could now hang on for another two years, Mr Najib seems to want his own mandate from the electorate before then, if only to face down many in his own party who are hostile to the direction in which he wants to go.

UMNO was founded to protect the interests of Malays and other indigenous peoples, who make up about two-thirds of the population, against those, mainly Chinese and Indian, who arrived under British rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. At independence these people were given citizenship, but in exchange Malays were granted special “privileges” to protect their political power and assure a larger share of the country’s wealth. These days, many argue that all the quotas and affirmative-action programmes to help the Malays are now not only obsolete, but counter-productive. Maintaining quotas for Malays in some universities, for instance, drives the brightest ethnic Chinese abroad. Often they do not come back, and the economy suffers from the loss of their entrepreneurial skills—they make neighbouring Singapore even richer instead.

Mr Najib broadly agrees. At the heart of his ETP is a pledge to introduce a more meritocratic society. Being a cautious politician, however, he hedges his message with promises not to abolish all the rights of the bumiputra (“sons of the soil”), as his core Malay constituency is called.

Nonetheless, for some in his party and the government bureaucracy (staffed largely by ethnic Malays), he is still going too fast, or even in the wrong direction. Wan Saiful, head of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, points out that the new policy is being promoted mainly by bodies, including the ETP, which have been set up within the prime minister’s office rather than in the relevant ministries. It is a sign, he says, that the cabinet is not buying into Mr Najib’s ideas. Further, Mr Najib has to contend with a ginger group, Perkasa, that claims to defend Malay rights within UMNO.

The next election, says one of Mr Najib’s former advisers, will thus be presidential in character. It will be a test of Mr Najib’s ability to assert his agenda within his own party and government as much as a fight against the opposition, a coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party.

The prime minister’s men are tracking the polls carefully, and are encouraged by recent by-election victories. Mr Najib will have to win big to convince the sceptics, at the very least restoring the BN’s two-thirds majority. Should he do that, he will be able to sweep out the UMNO old guard. Only then will it be clear what a previously unassuming technocrat with modernising ideas can do to transform his country


ajimsan said...

We will see in time whether the supposed jobs are being filled by locals or mat saleh con-sultans.

Rahim Rahmat, Ahli UMNO Cawangan Shah Alam said...

Apa ni Dato'?

Anak Tan Sri Khir Johari bekas Menteri Pendidikan dibawah tiga Perdana Menteri Malaysia telah menjadi...... ahli DAP!

Siapa cakap DAP itu bukan untuk orang Melayu?

Sah DAP ini terbuka kepada mana-mana bangsa dan agama.

Yang tak boleh masuk UMNO, orang Cina dengan India yang Hindu dan Buddha.

Dato', nak buat apa sekarang ni Dato'?

Anak pembesar UMNO yang berpangkat Menteri pun dah masuk DAP.

Kita di UMNO ni nak buat apa Dato'?

Dato' ada tak cadangan strategi untuk lawan balik?


Anonymous said...

what is the fuss of son of Khir Johari joining DAP. Let it be.

There are so many young talented Malays that left untouched by pemuda and puteri UMNO that need to be worried about.

It is high time for Pemuda and Puteri to get closer to the young Malays out there who are mor einclined to go PAS way.


Anonymous said...

Rahim Rahmat kami tau lu bukan Melayu tah lagi ahli Umno Cawangan Sha Alam,
Gua mauy bagi tau lu iti Khjir Johari telah di beri nasi kangkang oleh bini Cina dis nama Christine, ini perempuan cina langsiung tidak bagi in Khir berdekat dengan keluarga Khir Johari yang kaki botol nilu tanya lah sasiapa. Ini Christine bolot semua Khir Johari punya harta. Yang mnasuk DAP tu ada lah anak Khir Johari dengan Cina Christine ini, dan he is definitely not a Malay in psyche, minum dan makan babi dan kita tau! Orang Melayu tolong sekali kali jangan di perbodohkan oleh musang berbulu kambing, lu Lahim Lahmat ah jangan mau tipu gua lo!

Bangsa Melayu!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

We are moving into the age of consultants. The present crop of Civil Servants are responsible for the welcome extended to the consultants. Why, I am told by ususlly reliable sources that they are incompetent and cannot produce the papers ontime. Semua kerja kena 'outsource'. And the irony is that a neighbouring country, that I will not name, is being run by rejects from Malaysia.We have to wake up we cannot continue to promote Malay officers who are five years junior to non malay officers in the same promotion exercise and make their appoinment to the new post on the same date for all on the promotion list.The Last Prime Minister who made this mistake was Z. Buttoh of Pakistan. I do not have to tell yu waht has happend to that country and its civil service.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that the powers that may be are concerned by this article. May be about 10% of our population have the language to read and understand this article. And again may be 10% of that 10 would have read the article. The seven million students we have in our schools will not read it. Then those in university if they can read they may not understand the impliction.

I was once told by my boss that they can take away your car, your house and may be even your wife. But they will never be able to take away what is in your head. What my boss forgot to tell me is that they can make the stuff that is in my head uselesss as this article has be made useless in the Malaysian context.

Anonymous said...

FLOM division. negara kelas III

Anonymous said...

Anak Khir Johari inilah yang saman bapa kandungnya sendiri kerana harta dan didesak oleh isteri Cina nya itu.

Saya tak anggap pun budak ini berbangsa Melayu.

Anonymous said...

Pelajaran: jangan kawin cina sebab mereka ni selalunya gunakan pompuan utk lemahkan lelaki Melayu

macam rpk bini pun cina, hadiah utk umpan dan pancing lelaki Melayu pun pakai cina dolls

awas ... macam trojan horse

Anonymous said...

macam si lahim lahmat, si ah beng ni menyerupa Melayu Islam, niatnya nak tipu sudah terang

kunun nak cuci otak Melayu Islam, specis macam ni berlambak diblog pro kerajaan

dia ingat orang Melayu sekarang SENANG nak tipu

dulu ah beng hanya mahu wang kekayaan dgn berdagang, kin dia nak kaup seluruh negara pula

dia nak perintah macam singapura - dimana Melayu Islam disuruh JANAGN terlalu berpegang pada agama kalau nak harmoni

mula mula jual obat dulu lee kuan yew pakai songkok hitam, biar nampak keislaman nya tapi sekarang dah halau tuan tanah memjadi tuan rumah pangsa utk 99 tahun saja - dia berpaling 360 degrees

hah - sudah terang lagi bersuluh, awas pendapat LAHIM LAHMAT

Anonymous said...

Get the facts straight...only 2.3million malays voted for UMNO in the last election out of total 5.7 Million Malays voters.The saddest part is that more than 700 thousand UMNO members did not vote for BN (total Umno members 3 million plus.)so don't be too arrogant,try to be a bit moderate in your writings and if this type of tirade continues more Malays wiil not vote for UMNO/BN and who knows the next election will be the end of BN......Presently the opposition parties are concentrating on the non Malay votes as the know from statistics the total Malay Muslim is only 43% of the total population(excluding other non muslim Bumiputeras)...but what are we doing??? try to split the Malays futher by demonising,admonishing,name calling,fitna etc.....REMEMBER WE ARE ACTUALLY THE MINORITY ....ONLY 43% OF THE TOTAL POPULATION.

Pasquale said...

Moron anonYmous at12:13pm, where the fuck did you get your "perfect" statistics from please do not try to pull the wool from our eyes! We are not stupid to fall for your opposition spin bullshit! The Malays are not 43% minority in this country!