No Honeymoon for new Malaysian PM

Malaysia's opposition has continued its attacks over incoming prime minister Najib Razak's alleged links to the murder of a Mongolian translator.

The allegations are front and centre of its by-election campaign for the parliamentary seat of Perak state, where the opposition candidate is the former state minister who was ousted by Datuk Najib last month. It's one of three by-elections that are seen as a referendum on Datuk Najib's leadership, amid a deepening economic crisis, corruption allegations, and rising political tensions. Mr Najib has promised radical changes but with his popularity the lowest for any incoming leader, how tarnished is his leadership?

Presenter: Joanna McCarthy
Speaker: Professor Clive Kessler from the University of New South Wales

KESSLER: I think that it is true, that he comes in without any benefit, he comes in possibly under something of a shadow, there will be no honeymoon, there will be no oomph factor to start with.

McCARTHY: Well this weekend, we saw more than 10,000 opposition supporters taking to the streets and they were singing songs linking Datuk Najib to the murder of Altantuuya. Now there is no evidence for these alleged links and he denies the charges, but regardless of the substance of the allegations, will these questions continue to hang over his prime ministership?

KESSLER: They will in the sense that the issue is not so much about facts, it's about perceptions, or not about any facts other than perceptions which are key political facts. And Najib himself may be as pure as the driven snow, but he is widely seen as being not the cure, the answer to the UMNO's problems, but quite widely among other than government supporters as embodying what is UMNO's problem, its reputation for being high handed, arrogant, and desperately retributive whenever it gets into trouble and Najib is seen to embody, to personify that problem, by many people.

McCARTHY: As for the April 7 by elections in Perak State, to what extent are Najib's dealings in Perak, which saw the Barisan Nasional wrest state power from the opposition, now coming back to haunt him?

KESSLER: Well, we shall see when people go out to vote. The thing is that Najib's succession has been imminent really since the beginning of the year. He's very much closely associated with all developments, including some unfortunate losing by-elections and then this effort to topple the elected government in Perak, which was accomplished by means that are still contested, that are before the courts, that will remain before the courts, that many see as being legally dubious as well as politically damaging and quite predictably I think the opposition party, opposition coalition has put up as its candidate, from the Islamic Party, the man who was the chief minister of Perak, who was ousted from power by means that some people, many people see as unsatisfactory and in a move that even from before it happened was seen, was widely advertised and bruited, announced as Najib's dramatic intervention in Perak politics. So he will have to wear this one.

McCARTHY: Indeed, while it won't change the balance of power, what are the implications if the opposition candidate does win this by-election?

KESSLER: Well, I think we have go to back to say that basically the Malaysian economy is very internationalised, globalised, it's particularly vulnerable to the world economic crisis and has to be focused on that. If the country is not focused on that, that's already a problem. It needs a government of enormous capability, credibility and authority. So far as economics are concerned, the new team Najib and Muhyiddin and other people around him have I believe genuine economic experience, literacy and credibility, but that is where the good news ends. They lack the plausibility, the credibility, the authority, the legitimacy and any political setback will only go to further diminish the confidence that whatever UMNO's problems and Malaysia's problems are, that the Najib prime ministership will prove in the short run and in the long run, an effective answer to them.

ABC radio interview

Najib's Underhand Tactics Now Can Be Used Openly


YESTERDAY was Nomination Day for three by-elections scattered around Malaysia, which will prove a tough test for Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Yet, as Malaysia awaits his swearing-in as the next prime minister this Friday, his first moves at the Umno party general assembly last week suggest he may be equal to the huge challenges facing him.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition he will helm has lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament, ceded four states to an opposition alliance and - after the gruelling Umno elections - is saddled with unpopular names like Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin in the line-up. Then there's the economic gloom.

Yet even a constant Najib critic like the blogger known as Sakmongkol, a former lawmaker, has acknowledged the new leader made the right moves.

First, in his acceptance speech as Umno chief last Saturday, Datuk Seri Najib projected humility and made no attempt to use his new platform to take potshots at political opponents inside or outside Umno.

Malaysians will like that. Not once, for example, did he mention Anwar Ibrahim, the opposition chief who has been demonising him endlessly.

Second, Mr Najib is trying to bring together former premier Mahathir Mohamad and outgoing leader Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, saying he was planning a meeting with the two statesmen to bury the hatchet and help him rebuild Umno and BN.

The Mahathir-Abdullah spat is often cited as a key reason for last year's BN elections flop.

Malaysians are also encouraged that their future prime minister seems to be on the ball with regard to the economic meltdown.

Mr Najib announced during the Umno meet that he will launch a website to show the people just how the new RM60 billion (S$25 billion) mini-budget will be sourced and spent.

This shows, one netizen remarked, that Mr Najib cares about being transparent.

There is talk he may engage former finance minister Daim Zainuddin to strengthen Malaysia's ties with other countries.

This should go down well too. The Umno elections have given Mr Najib a line-up of leaders drawn from different corners of Malaysia, giving him a good chance to unify his fractious party as he fights corruption.

Even if BN loses all three by-elections taking place next Tuesday, all the blame won't be heaped upon the new captain at the helm.

And I haven't even mentioned Mr Najib's chance to wow Malaysians with a dazzling Cabinet line-up, which should show how serious - or not - he is about making changes in the government.

Of course, Malaysians will recall that his predecessor also had an excellent start after taking charge in 2003 - before things began falling apart.

Can Najib be the reformist Abdullah failed to be? — Ooi Kee Beng

MARCH 28 — Five years after the 2004 general election gave unprecedented support to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, he leaves office a disappointed man eased out by his party’s leadership.

He also leaves behind a disappointed population that hoped he would reverse the downward trend of governance in Malaysia. He also hands over office to a man who, unlike him, will start his term under tremendous pressure to perform.

Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, the eldest son of the country’s second Prime Minister, will, barring any last minute move by his political enemies, become the sixth Prime Minister of the country. This is a role he — and his wife — seems to think is destined for him to play.

In fact, he will be holding not one, but three if not four, pivotal positions at the same time. According to tradition, the country’s Prime Minister is also the president of Umno as well as the chairman of the ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional.

Chances are, he will take on at least one other major portfolio. He became Finance Minister only recently and will therefore probably continue to be such. The Home Ministry is one further administration that he might be tempted to control directly.

The immediate challenges Najib will face as Prime Minister radiate from this triple pyramidal system of government that Malaysia has always had.

Forming a Cabinet that will bring the “massive change” that he recently promised Malaysians is his first Herculean task. His first picks have to come from among Umno’s leaders. He will have to accommodate newly-elected leaders of the various wings of the party as well as from among the supreme councillors.

In doing this, he has to balance the various factions within the party. Alienating any of them badly will increase chances of defections to the opposition further down the road.

Umno’s biggest problem at the moment is its inability to win support from among young Malays. It is losing urban areas to Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the rural north to Pas.

Corruption is seen to have corroded the party at all levels and many suspect that the only way it can reinvent itself is to lose power, just as the Kuomintang in Taiwan had to do.

After making hard choices from among Umno’s leaders, Najib has to, in keeping with the BN’s claim to represent all major ethnic groups, place prominent non-Malay allies in middle-rank portfolios.

Given how parties such as Parti Gerakan Rakyat and the MIC were decimated in last year’s general election, their leaders who had lost their parliamentary seats will have to be made senators first before they can constitutionally become Cabinet ministers. Doing this repeatedly will inevitably be taken as a snub by voters.

Not giving high positions to leaders such as Gerakan’s Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and MIC’s Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu will, however, almost definitely estrange them and their supporters.

BN’s biggest problem at the moment is its inability to regain the Indian vote, and the uncontested re-election as MIC president of Samy Vellu, the man blamed for alienating the Indian community, undermines the raison d’etre of the coalition further.

Constrained by the power balance of his party and of the damaged coalition that he leads, Najib, at the personal level, has no choice but to seek the moral high ground. This will take some doing, seeing how the murder trial of the Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaaribuu, continues to haunt him.

All the new Prime Minister can do is to hope that the affair will fade away from public consciousness after the court’s verdict is handed out next month. “Revelations” about his connection, or lack of connection, to the sordid case are no longer an option for him.

Instead, Najib will have to drown himself in the work of softening the worst effects of the emerging economic crisis.

Serious dialogue with civil society — if not with the opposition parties — is a tactic he has to adopt, not for its own sake, but because that is the only way for him to project himself as a Prime Minister for the country, not for party or coalition. That is also the only chance he has to slow the flow of voter support away from the BN.

Relying only on Umno and the BN merely strengthens the image of insularity and arrogance that voters punished the government for last year.

The optimism and pro-activeness that Najib needs to project depends on his ability to keep his three major roles apart. He has to persuade Malaysians that he is the nation’s leader, first and foremost, and not the defender of his party’s and his coalition’s vested interests.

His political future depends on him acting tough against his own. Radical reforms from the top are the only answer. — Today

Najib addresses allegations

By Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Newly-elected Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak today slammed those who have made wild allegations against him as he prepares to take over the premiership next week.

Winding up the Umno General Assembly today, Najib told the delegates that the opposition has created two different standards of justice — one for them, and the other for the government.

"If anyone from the opposition is brought to court, they would say the judge is biased, prosecutor is unfair, police are wrong," said Najib.

"But if it involves any government figure, the moment they are charged, they will be assumed guilty. Evidence will be fabricated, non-existent pictures will be created and false witnesses will be hired," he added.

He also took the opportunity to slam opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for projecting himself to be clean.

"Now that he is in the opposition, suddenly he is seen as being innocent as an angel, clean like a newborn baby. But the truth is we know who he really is," said Najib, without mentioning Anwar's name.

Najib has been accused by his critics of involvement in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006, but he had denied meeting and knowing the woman.

His former advisor Abdul Razak Baginda was acquitted last year of abetting in the murder.

As the date of his takeover of the government nears, the international media have been highlighting the case and the opposition has been relying heavily on those reports to cast doubts on Najib's credibility to lead the government.

Najib pledges to reform party election process

By Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — The Umno General Assembly ended today with newly-elected party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak telling delegates he will amend the party constitution in order to reform the election process.

Winding up the three-day meeting, Najib reiterated his stand that the election process which involves only 2,600 delegates does not reflect the sentiment on the ground, and encourages vote buying.

"Let us be the real representatives of the grassroots and leaders who understand the aspiration of the people," said Najib.

He also promised to amend the quota system which has made it impossible for anyone to contest the presidency.

"I do not want to hide behind the quota system. It is impossible for anyone to get 58 nominations," he said, referring to the minimum number of nominations required to contest the presidency.

He added that the special assembly to amend the constitution would be convened by the end of the year.

Najib, who is scheduled to replace Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi as the Prime Minister next week, also thanked Abdullah for a smooth transition.

"Umno's tradition has returned, the tradition that has been practised since the era of Tunku Abdul Rahman," he added, referring to the practice of the party's No. 2 taking over the Umno presidency.

He also commented on the calls made by the delegates for the party to ensure tighter control of the government to which he said the party must first understand the people's wishes.

"The idea of the party controlling the government must be understood in the context of the party representing the people's wishes and it has to ensure that they are translated into government programmes," he said.

Najib declared new Umno president

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was today declared as the new Umno president.

Umno permanent chairman Tan Sri Onn Ismail made the declaration at the outset of the Umno General Assembly at the Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here.

Najib, 55, won the Umno presidency unopposed.

Outgoing Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, 69, in his last policy speech as party president, called on the members to give their solid support to enable Najib to take Malaysia to greater heights.

The prime minister, who pledged to give his undivided support to Najib as the new Umno president and prime minister, said he is handing over the national responsibility to Najib whom he described as “a younger leader who has the maturity and experience to navigate the nation to greater heights.”

Abdullah has held the post since October 2004. – Bernama

Najib must go to the courts to clear his name: Ku Li

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Malaysia’s next prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak should take the witness stand to clear his name or take legal action against the growing number of foreign publications linking him with the murder of Altantuya Shariibuu and the purchase of submarines.

He “should finally face these suspicions and implied charges, submit himself to legal scrutiny, and come clean on them’’, said Umno’s elder statesman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, himself a target of an international media witch hunt in the 1980s following the infamous BMF scandal.

“The BMF scandal of the 1980s also had its share of lurid detail. There too a large sum of money and a murder was involved. An unseen hand had woven the threads of the story around me to destroy me politically. But when international newspapers alleged that I was involved in any wrongdoing, I took action against each and every one of them in their home jurisdictions.

“I sued The Telegraph and The Sunday Times of the UK, and The South China Morning Post of Hong Kong. I won all three cases, the newspapers published unreserved apologies and printed retractions covering half a broadsheet page each, and I came away with a tidy sum of money for my trouble,’’ noted Ku Li, as he is fondly known in Malaysia.

Najib is now being given the same treatment in the international media, with the UK’s Sunday Times, the International Herald Tribune, the French daily, LibĂ©ration, The Australian Financial Review, the Far Eastern Economic Review and the New York Times all raising questions about the link between the murdered young woman, Najib, and the commission paid out by the French company Armaris to a Malaysian company for the purchase of submarines.

“This is now an international story. And this story will not go away. With its dramatic details and the alleged involvement of elite Malaysian government operatives, it captures the journalistic imagination. But the story is now connected with an ongoing investigation into the dealings of a major French company. The story is also going to stick around because it is a handy looking-glass into Malaysia’s ‘increasingly dysfunctional political system.’ It implicates our entire system of government, our judiciary, and our press, and it casts a shadow on our ability as a nation to face and tell the truth.

“The scandal is bringing shame to the nation and damaging our international credibility. Swearing on the Al-Quran is not the way out. Scoundrels have been known to do that. The truth, established through the rigorous and public scrutiny of the law, is the only remedy if an untrue story has gained currency not just internationally but at home among a large section of the people.’’

Ku Li said that Najib should voluntarily offer to testify at the trial of the two officers charged with killing Altantuya. He could also write to these newspapers and if necessary he should take legal action against them to clear his and Malaysia’s name.

Najib has vigorously denied accusations raised by Opposition politicians of any involvement in the murder of the Mongolian model. These accusations were raised in a by-election in 2007 and have refused to go away.

His supporters are convinced that it is not a coincidence that there has been a gush of reports in the international media about the Altantuya case just as he is a cusp away from the top job in the country. They see the hidden hand of the Opposition behind the sudden interest in the case by publications which did not show much interest in the case which saw Najib’s advisor, Razak Baginda and two members of the elite police team being charged with murder.

Razak Baginda was acquitted without his defence being called while the two policemen will know their fate on April 9. Najib’s name was dragged into the case because the court heard that his aide-de-camp Musa Safri had introduced Razak Baginda to the two policemen. The two policemen are alleged to have shot the woman and blown her body to pieces using explosives.

Video of Najib's Son - Womanizing and Alcohol Abuse

The sons of Tan Sri Najib (Prime Minister of Msia) and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz womanizing and drinking to their hearts delight, while other muslims would have been jailed and beaten up by police or Islam enforcing khalwat officers.

They didn't seem too scandalous to be shown here but it turns out they do show some illegal activities going on by the sons of well-heeled people. These pictures show the son of Nazri Aziz and the son of Seri Najib enjoying themselves womanising and boozing it up.

These men are the sons of big time politicians in Malaysia. The Najib guy seem to be drunk most of the time but that Anak Nazri dude seem like he is constantly after a come. Muslim laws in the country seem to apply differently for different classes of people.

Seriously, I do think alcohol and womanising is strictly prohibited under Islamic Shariah laws, and Malaysia proclaimed itself to be an Islamic country, probably to gain votes. Luckily these guys are rich and politically connected so bring on the sluts and the wine.


Zaid urges King not to make Najib PM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 - Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has made an impassioned plea to the King to not appoint Datuk Seri Najib Razak as prime minister, and instead appoint someone else from Umno "to bring us back from the brink."

The former de facto law minister urged the King to used his judgment to appoint as PM someone who is "beyond reproach in his dealings both official and private," in a scathing attack on his former Cabinet and party colleague.

"A prime minister must have the confidence of the majority of the rakyat…For this to be the case there cannot be anything in the mind of the greater public that, correctly or otherwise, associates him with matters of criminality, wrongful action, improper conduct or abuses of power," he said in a speech to the Rotary Club here today.

Zaid's remarks will certainly put pressure on Najib as he prepares to take power first as Umno president next week before taking over from Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi as prime minister the following week.

The former minister's comments also come a day after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also piled on the pressure on Najib by saying he did not shine as a deputy prime minister and acknowledging the baggage he carries into the job.

In his speech, Zaid also made reference to what has been described as the kind of baggage that no other Malaysian leader had on entering office.

He has been linked on the internet and by political rivals to the brutal murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu although he has firmly denied involvement and there is no evidence to tie him to the death.

Najib's popularity rating also stands at just 41 per cent, according to a recent poll by the independent Merdeka Centre.

Zaid said that while he did not intend any accusation, he felt that Najib was not beyond reproach in the collective mind of the rakyat.

"The rakyat has doubts, fuelled by the unanswered allegations against him. It is not a mere trifle in the minds of the rakyat that despite a direct challenge from a member of parliament recently, the deputy prime minister remained silent," he said.

Zaid also cited the RM400 million in commissions reportedly paid by the Defence Ministry while Najib was minister for the procurement of submarines, and pointed out that Abdul Razak Baginda, the DPM's friend was an agent in the deal.

The Altantuya murder was also cited by Zaid, who pointed out that there were many unanswered questions which the public deserved to be told about.

He also described the recent power grab in Perak as an unmitigated disaster.

"They (the public) now equate him with the high-handed tactics that were employed to seize power.

"With all of this and more, how are we not to feel anxious? How are we to sleep peacefully at night?"

Zaid said that while the King is required under the Constitution to appoint the person who commands the confidence of the majority of the members of parliament, it is a matter for His Majesty's judgment.

"There is no constitutional obligation on His Majesty to appoint the president of Umno as the prime minister.

"There are still well qualified members of parliament from Umno who can be appointed PM to bring us back from the brink."

Gobind accuses Najib of murder and gets thrown out

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo was ejected from the Dewan Rakyat for an outburst in which he repeatedly accused Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of being a murderer.

“Answer me, you murderer!” Gobind shouted after claiming that Najib was involved in the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu and that he had not been investigated properly.

The outburst, after Najib had made his winding up speech during the debate of the second stimulus package, comes on the back of renewed claims published in French newspaper La Liberation concerning Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor’s alleged involvement in the case.

As Najib was leaving the Dewan Rakyat the Puchong MP threw allegations at the Deputy Prime Minister.

“DPM, you are involved in the murder case, stand up and explain yourself.

“Come back, I’m not finished with you,” Gobind said to which Najib then walked back to his seat and sat down.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee then ordered Gobind to leave the house for wasting time on an irrelevant topic.

Gobind refused and had to be escorted out of the Dewan Rakyat by the sergeant-at-arms.

In protest, several opposition MP’s including DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang jeered and proceeded to walk out in support of Gobind straight to a press conference.

While Gobind was giving the press conference, Najib left along with Rosmah and their two children surrounded by his entourage towards the office block in the Parliament compound.

Edward Cheah and Shannon Teoh