Najib Asks For Press Support


By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — While insisting that the government respects press freedom, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (picture) has called on the media to “become his partner” and back the agenda of his administration.

Najib said tonight it was important that the media act as an educational tool to advocate “change” instead of inducing fear against it.

The media, said Najib, should play a vital role in his administration’s effort to end the subsidy mentality, nestled among the Malays which form the country’s majority and who are becoming more unsettled by the liberalisation efforts of Najib’s New Economic Model.

Referring to his government’s plan to cut away sugar subsidy and the outrage it sparked, the PM said it was the responsibility of the press to translate the move as positive for the good of the voters and the economy.

“Because of the high level of sugar consumption, the story must be skewed to inform the public even though the price of the commodity has gone up, it is not good because we take too much sugar,” said Najib in his speech at the National Press Club awards here.

Najib also denied the allegations that freedom of the press is curtailed, calling it an unfair description of the government-linked Malaysian mainstream media.

“I do feel at times that the accusations that Malaysia lacks press freedom is grossly unfair,” he said.

The country’s sixth premier maintained, just as his more authoritative predecessors had in the past, that “as long as the reports do not run afoul of” the country’s “existing laws, the press is free to report anything”.

And echoing past administrations, Najib reasoned that press freedom should coincide with responsibility.

“In any case, I have always been of view that freedom without responsibility is no freedom at all. It is in fact, chaos,” he said.

Najib tonight also pointed out that his administration had not used any law such as the Internal Security Act, a law that permits detention without trial, on journalists or the media.

“Don’t worry about the ISA, or suspension. I have no plan to use it unless you are irresponsible,” he said.

Najib to announce NEM in two stages


By Adib Zalkapli
PUTRAJAYA, March 11 —Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today said the New Economic Model (NEM) will be announced in two stages, dismissing the speculation that it has been postponed.

Najib said it will be launched on March 30 during the Invest Malaysia conference and confirmed the second announcement will be made together with the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“We will make the announcement, but it will be an announcement in two stages,” he told reporters here.

“RM-10 and slightly after RM-10, depending on the process we want to engage all stakeholders,” said Najib when asked to confirm if the second announcement will be incorporated with the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Najib, however, refused to give details of the announcement.

“Wait. First, don’t jump the gun. Otherwise I will be speaking prematurely. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag. Otherwise I will be like Malaysian Insider,” he said.

The Malaysian Insider reported recently that the government decided to postpone the announcement after it received feedback from various quarters including the Malay nationalist group Perkasa and the Malay Consultative Council (MPM).

Perkasa, a member of MPM, is worried that the NEM will increase the monopoly of the country’s economy by the Chinese community.

The NEM was drafted to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation based on innovation and creativity.

The National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC), chaired by Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz, had briefed the Cabinet for the second time on March 1, days after engaging with several quarters on various issues related to the NEM.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stressed last weekend that the government will not only consider the interest of the Malays but other communities as well in drafting the NEM.

NEM is one of the promises made by Najib when he became Prime Minister in April last year.

PM Datuk Seri Najib will NOT attend disputed MCA AGM

Prime Minister Najib Razak will not be attending the disputed MCA annual general meeting this Sunday. Najib's press aide Tengku Sharifuddin Tengku Ahmad told Malaysiakini this evening that the prime minister will not officially launch the controversial AGM, which is to kick off on Sunday morning at the MCA headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Traditionally, the prime minister is invited to officiate the annual general meetings of Barisan Nasional component parties. The absence of Najib at this weekend's AGM, which has been disputed by the Youth and Wanita wings' along with vice-president Liow Tiong Lai, is the clearest indication yet that party chief Ong Tee Keat has lost the support of the Umno president. This afternoon, the caretaker central committee at a meeting chaired by Ong insisted that the AGM should go ahead as planned despite stringent objections from MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong and Wanita chief Chew Mei Fun. The duo subsequently walked out of the meeting in protest.

Najib invites Facebook friends to tea party


Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, it seems, is making friends with netizens.

The Malaysian leader has invited 300 friends of his Facebook page to a tea party at his Putrajaya home next Saturday.

In the past, the Malaysian government was quick to condemn blogs and websites. The Internet was widely credited – or blamed, depending on one’s political preference – for the political tsunami in the March 2008 general election.

The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) suffered massive poll losses. The opposition Pakatan Rakyat, using the Internet to its advantage, reaped huge gains.

So the Premier’s move to meet his online fans is an obvious attempt by the BN ruling coalition to get close to the growing numbers who hang out in cyberspace. An estimated 42 per cent of Malaysians have Internet access.

Najib has a www.1malaysia. com.my blog and Facebook and Twitter accounts. In the past, some of his Twitter followers had complained that his tweets were a little dry and impersonal, and rarely said more than “4.30pm: Meeting”.

That, too, seems to be changing, judging by a March 2 tweet: “Visited Kampung Sungai Bedil yesterday in Sarawak, where I retraced the steps of my dear father.”

Now his online presence is fast gaining popularity. He has more than 118,000 fans on Facebook. That is more than his chief rival Anwar Ibrahim’s 60,544 fans and Democratic Action Party veteran Lim Kit Siang’s 20,902 fans.

Mr Najib also has more than 11,000 followers on Twitter versus 6,000-plus for both Mr Anwar and Mr Lim.

When he announced the tea party, some 600 people responded. They included fans asking for invites. One went: “I’ll love to come to ur tea party. Please pick me so I will know more. Please…We love u Datuk.”

But there were also complaints. One suggested: “If space is limited at Putrajaya Seri Perdana, why not have the event at the stadium? More people can come.”