Najib tries desperately to sell his fading 1-Malaysia with songs and dances

Yesterday, 27 June, 2009, 11:57:19 AM
By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s concept of 1 Malaysia, disparaged so relentlessly by the opposition since its introduction, was distilled this morning into a cultural song-and-dance.

In a seven-minute speech at Dataran Merdeka this morning at the launch of the 1 Malaysia logo, the prime minister made fleeting reference to the difficulties his administration has faced in pitching the 1 Malaysia concept to ordinary Malaysians.

“When 1 Malaysia was introduced many were asking what does it mean, but I found out generally people have accepted the 1 Malaysia concept,” he said in his speech before thousands of colourfully dressed Malaysians brought in by the Information Ministry to help launch the 1 Malaysia logo.

“Our assembly this morning, an assembly of people in red, in blue, in yellow and in white, although we are in different colours, but we are here today aiming for the same objective,” added Najib in explaining the 1 Malaysia concept.

The prime minister’s well-worn remarks did not offer much more beyond the message of national solidarity.

“It will be of little use to have intellectuals, abundant natural resources and the highest of technology if the people are not united,” he said.

After unveiling the giant logo, Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor accompanied by some members of his Cabinet, including Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, joined the crowd for a specially-choreographed group workout called the ‘Malaysian cultural workout’.

The workout, which lasted for 30 minutes, was a combination of traditional dances from all major ethnic groups in the country.

The crowd, largely made up of civil servants, was also entertained by six songs on 1 Malaysia, one of which will be chosen by the ministry to be the official theme for 1 Malaysia.

Ultimately, the event which was the brainchild of Information Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim, suggests the beginning of a public relations and publicity campaign to ensure Malaysians buy in to the 1 Malaysia concept.

The 1 Malaysia theme song is expected to be played regularly on all government television and radio stations.

The Malaysian Insider understands the chosen song will also likely be played at most government functions, in the same vein as the indoctrination campaigns made popular by Barisan Nasional (BN) in the 1980s.

Private radio and television stations would also be expected to do their part in the 1 Malaysia campaign.

Since introducing it as the platform of his new administration, Najib has been struggling to explain and defend the 1 Malysia concept, which he said was formulated to forge unity among Malaysians.

He has denied that the concept is similar to Malaysian Malaysia, introduced by the opposition in the 1960s and which is opposed by the strong right-wing faction in Umno who champion the idea of Ketuanan Melayu, or Malay Supremacy.

His party’s recent overtures towards PAS over the idea of Malay unity has also put the spotlight on his 1 Malaysia, attracting attacks from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and concern even from among non-Malay BN component parties.

Najib has said that 1 Malaysia does not deviate from the Federal Constitution, which provides for the special position of Malays and other bumiputeras, without providing details of how his administration plans to address race relations.

Sultan of Johor rejects Najib's third bridge

Najib may have to drop third bridge idea
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Whether he likes it or not, the prime minister may have to drop the third bridge to Singapore idea simply because Johoreans don’t want it and that is all there is to it.

The Sultan of Johor rejected the idea yesterday after it was reported that he was not consulted on the project.

The rejection left Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was in Sarawak at the time, moving into damage control mode at a press conference where he told reporters that the third bridge was only at a conceptual stage and the Johor ruler would be consulted once a feasibility study is done.

Whether this is enough to placate the sultan is not known but if Najib believes he’s got it all sorted out, he may be wrong.

Many Umno leaders from the southern state have rallied behind their ruler on this issue. They believe that when the sultan rejected the third link, he was not only speaking for himself, but for the people of Johor.

“What was said by the sultan reflects the beliefs of his subjects,” Tenggara MP Datuk Halimah Mohd Sadique said in Parliament yesterday.

Backing her is Umno deputy youth president and Muar MP Datuk Razali Ibrahim who told The Malaysian Insider that the anti-third link sentiment among Johoreans has always been there.

“Many Johoreans don’t want the third bridge. This sentiment has been expressed through the sultan and the prime minister must heed it,” he said.

Among the issues linked to the third bridge is the possibility that the 12-year-old ban on the sale of sand to the republic may be lifted.

Johor Baru MP Datuk Syed Shahrir Samad said he agreed with the sultan, and reiterated his stand that the third bridge is unnecessary and that Johoreans will never agree with the lifting of the ban on sale of sand.

“Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said it was necessary to resolve all outstanding issues between us if we want to talk about the third bridge.

“This is typical of the Singapore government, I haven’t seen a shift in policy since there is no generational change in their leadership,” he said adding that Najib will have to think carefully about this matter.

Najib's policies attacked by Mahathir

Dr M says no to third bridge, and no to unity talks
By Neville Spykerman

KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad added today to the growing chorus of criticisms against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s proposed third bridge to Singapore. He also warned Umno against pursuing the so-called unity talks, in a sign that he is beginning to disapprove of some of Najib’s policies.

The former prime minister said it would be a bad idea to have a government comprising only Malays.

He also revived the idea of building a crooked bridge to replace the Malaysian half of the Causeway, since Singapore was not in favour of a new bridge to replace the structure.

“I think it’s better for the government to build the crooked bridge instead of third bridge,” he told reporters after attending a book launch today. He fears a third bridge would affect operations at the Pasir Gudang Port, adding that replacing the existing Causeway between Johor and Singapore would be more beneficial.

Besides reducing traffic congestion at the Causeway, he said it would allow the free movement of water which would make the straits cleaner.

Dr Mahathir also said that the new Customs, Immigrations and Quarantine (CIQ) complex at the Causeway was not operating at what should be the optimal level.

The CIQ was built to accommodate a new bridge which would have replaced the Causeway but the project was cancelled when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister.

On the stand by the Johor Sultan, who also objected yesterday to a third bridge, Dr Mahathir said the “Sultan has his rights and so does the Federal Government”.

The cancellation of the the crooked bridge by Tun Abdullah was one of the significant reasons for the falling out between the two men.

Dr Mahathir eventually left Umno last year and only returned to the party this year when Najib replaced Abdullah as prime minister.

Since then he has refrained from openly criticising government policies.

Besides backing growing concerns that the construction of a third bridge would result in Johor having to lift its ban on the sale of sand to Singapore, Dr Mahathir also expressed his disapproval of the proposed unity talks between Umno and PAS.

He said a unity government with PAS could jeopardise Umno’s relationship with other Barisan National (BN) partners.

The former prime minister said the government needed to explain what their objective was and if they were willing to leave their ‘friends” to form a government which only comprised the Malays.

“I don’t the country wants a government which is 100 per cent Malay”

He said the government has always included non-Malays and cautioned there would be difficulties if non-Malays were excluded.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea”.