Shameless Malaysian Government Fraud Goes Global


By Azeem Ibrahim

From the Huffington Post, February 28, 2013

Last week, a civil suit was filed at the High Court of Malaysia by a number of very disgruntled investors. They are alleging that Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd solicited their investments based on false invoices and fraudulent documents and have misappropriated funds of about $4 million. [SEE ALSO HERE]

When their support was solicited in 2008 and 2009, the investors considered that Malaysia was an emerging, secure and accountable business system and assumed that they would gain an honest return on their investment. Today however, after several years of fighting to get their funds returned, they have met with nothing but delays.

The whole affair raises serious questions whether investigation is being stalled by people in high places. This is certainly a matter which would merit investigation by the MACC and by any government concerned in its commitment to battle corruption.

The investors have had many meetings with Malaysian politicians and ministers in London and Malaysia — including Prime Minister Najib a day after he announced Part 1 of his New Economic Model which included promoting inward investment.

British political leaders are taking up the issue on behalf of these British citizens and in spite of countless reassurances that Malaysian justice can be relied upon, there has still been no definitive action from the Malaysian government.

Dato’ Seri Abdul Azim Bin Mohd ZabidiThe original funds were invested in Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd whose chairman and director is the influential Dato Seri Abdul Azim Bin Mohd Zabidi, former treasurer of the main UNMO political ruling party. The other director of Doxport Technologies is Sivalingam Thechinamoorthy, who is allegedly one of the ‘frontmen’ for many of Dato Abdul Azim’s deals, with Thechinamoorthy’s wife, Gurmeet Kaur, playing a pivotal role as well.

This is by no means the first hint of corruption within Malaysia’s political elite, despite Malaysia’s high-profile anti-corruption crusade. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government professes to be taking a lead in weeding out graft but the perception is growing that corruption under the Najib administration is flourishing.

For example, the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International reported recently that Malaysia scored worst in the world in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) began its operation officially on January 1, 2009 and according to the official website of International Association of Anti Corruption Authorities, “had focused on investigating cases involving illegal mining and sand smuggling, illegal logging, corruption at the country’s entry points as well as distribution of diesel subsidy.” An impression is given of a corrupt government hounding the small offenders and ignoring the more important cases of pervasive graft.

Abuse continues in government procurement and scandals such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Project, not to mention the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) described by Transparency International as “a black mark on the country’s history.” Another example is the Bakun Dam in Sarawak which was included in Transparency International’s ‘Monuments of corruption’ Global Corruption Report in 2005. The mandate to develop the project went to a timber contractor and a friend of Sarawak’s governor. The construction of the dam was found to be faulty and the provincial government of Sarawak is still looking for customers to consume the power to be generated by the project.

However, rather than living up to its promises, the government continues to deal with corruption by shameless blame shifting and paper shuffling. The delay in fully investigating the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud case is yet another egregious example of justice delayed and therefore justice denied. This will not rest here however, as the British victims of the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud are moving their case to a higher level.

British investors have received the support of many of their Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, many of whom have sent letters:

• 9 have written to date, to the Malaysian Prime Minister — no reply has ever been received
• 6 have written to date, to the Malaysian High Commissioner in the UK — no reply has ever been received
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Attorney General — no reply has been received to date
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Minister of Law — no reply has been received to date

However, letters to the British Foreign Secretary have ensured that the British Government is aware and active in the case and that the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud will have major repercussions.

The persistent corruption in Malaysia is destroying the country’s international reputation as a safe and equitable environment for investment and is doing immense disservice and harm to its people. Whistleblowers in Malaysia have not had a fair hearing over the years with ominous reports for example of people falling to their death following interrogation by authorities.

Opposition politicians find themselves facing trumped up charges if their accusations get too close to the truth and Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and currently the de facto leader of Keadilan, the People’s Justice Party, has already spent a number of years imprisoned for his courageous stand against government corruption.

Tackling fraud will be Anwar Ibrahim’s top priority if elected when the country goes to the ballot. Prime Minister Najib Razak must dissolve parliament by April 28th and hold the election within 60 days, but a nervous leadership is delaying the announcement to the last possible moment and is bringing the democratic process of free and fair elections into question.

Fraud and corruption in Malaysia have reached a shameless new level and might be seen as the dying efforts of a government on its way out. Certainly the people of Malaysia deserve better if trust is to be reestablished in Malaysia as an international player in global economics. Respect for the law must begin at the top. If Doxport Technologies and its directors cannot be made accountable, hopefully the government of Malaysia will receive a just verdict of defeat in the imminent election and democratic justice will prevail.

Dr Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of The Scotland Institute and a Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Follow Azeem Ibrahim on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AzeemIbrahim

Najib offers the Masculine Touch as Shahrizat’s successor


April 8, 2012

Najib offers the Masculine Touch as Minister of Women Affairs, Family and Community Development

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Prime Minister Najib Razak today announced that he would assume the role of Women Affairs, Family and Community Development Minister.

This follows Wanita UMNO Chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s announcement on March 11 to step down as Minister when her term as Dewan Negara member ends on April 8 in the wake of the National Feedlot Corporation scandal.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, made the announcement at an event in Temerloh, Pahang today. The Prime Minister, however, did not say how long he would be acting in the post. Shahrizat is nevertheless keeping her Wanita UMNO chief post.

Najib said Shahrizat had pledged to continue giving her best as Wanita UMNO chief. “Shahrizat has promised me that as Wanita UMNO chief, she will assure a big win for the Barisan Nasional in the upcoming general election,” he said.

“I dare say that the people are gradually coming back to us, their affection for us is rising. Shahrizat emphasised the word ‘sayang’ (love) during her ministership, if the people give their support, it comes from their minds, but if they give their love, it comes from their hearts.”When it comes from the heart, the choice will definitely be the one and only (Barisan Nasional),” he said.

Najib said the people would be able to evaluate what had been accomplished by the government in an effort to improve their livelihood through various assistance rendered. He said the people could also gauge the promises fulfilled by the BN-led government compared to that of the opposition, which had failed to honour their election undertakings.

Shahrizat’s key supporter

Najib’s announcement today quashes speculation that Selangor UMNO Wanita chief Raja Ropiaah was earmarked to stand in as Shahrizat’s replacement.

Talk of her possible ministerial role surfaced when Ropiaah’s name cropped up among the five leaders to be sworn in as senators tomorrow.

Ropiaah has earlier dismissed the speculations as “tall tales”. “I have not been informed of any appointment to be a minister,” she told Malaysiakini when contacted on Friday.When I become a senator on Monday, I will carry out my role to my best effort. I don’t want to say anything further than that,” she said.

Ropiaah, who is a Wanita exco member, is one of several vocal supporters of Shahrizat. Embattled Wanita chief Shahrizat had received calls from within the wing – in particular deputy Wanita Chief Kamilia Ibrahim – to step down over the NFC fiasco involving the alleged abuse of a RM250 million government loan by her family.

Kedah Politics: UMNO-BN needs a new Leader


March 31, 2012

Kedah Politics: UMNO-BN needs a new Leader

by Rashid Ahmad (03-30-12)@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Kedah Barisan Nasional (BN) has lost a chance to shake the PAS-led Pakatan Rakyat state government when it did not “exploit” the recent crisis in the state administration. Political observers said the internal conflict in Kedah PAS had split the party and made it “vulnerable” to outside attacks but BN did not seize the opportunity, thus making it difficult for BN to retake the state.

Kedah PAS, say some political observers, is being manipulated by two main players keen to helm the state administration and also by “outside forces”.They said Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak, who is from the old school of thoughts, is aligned to party president Abdul Hadi Awang. He is seen as the leader of the “fundamentalists” and is fighting hard against attempts from the liberals to take over the state administration.

Azizan’s “foes from within” – Kedah PAS Deputy Commissioner (I) Phahrolrazi Zawawi and Kedah PAS Deputy Commissioner (II) Ismail Salleh – are aligned to the liberals and they striving to push Azizan out. Words have it that the main reason for the attempted “mutiny” against Azizan is to find a place for Party Deputy President Mohamed Sabu to contest in the upcoming general election.

Mohamed Sabu or Mat Sabu, as he is popularly known, is said to be seeking for a seat in Kedah as he is not wanted in Kelantan, where he once stood as MP and won. The crisis, though resolved, is still a pain in the neck for PAS as Azizan is said to be still sticking to his decision not to entertain or recognise Phahrolrazi and Ismail as followers in the state administration.

Credible leader

So the split in PAS still exists but BN has failed to exploit it to enhance its chances of diluting PAS influence among the fence-sitters in the state.A political analyst, Ramli Mohd Yunus, said another BN weakness in the state was its failure to appoint a credible leader to lead Kedah as Menteri Besar if it comes back to power.

“Apologising [to the people for BN's mistakes in the past] is one thing but the main thrust is to win back the hearts and minds of the voters, particularly Malays. This can be achieved if BN has picked a credible, MB-material leader who will helm the state if the coalition wins.

“Kedah Malays, including the Chinese who have blended well with the Malay culture, know past and present BN and UMNO leaders in the state very well.They want to hear and see from the Prime Minister himself who he picks to lead the state. The way I see it, if Najib picks the wrong man, the votes will go to the other side.If Najib picks the man they respect and know, then the votes will go to BN. So it’s the man who will lead the state as menteri besar that matters now, not issues,” he said.

Even BN leaders in Kuala Lumpur share the same views. Observers believe that Mukhriz Mahathir is the man who could gain the voters’ confidence.

Matter of personality

Ramli said that he too has heard from the grassroots members in the state and also from some Chinese voters that Mukhriz (left) is the man best suited to take over should PAS fall.

“Kedah Malays and even some Chinese still hold Dr Mahathir Mohamad in high regard and obviously they also respect his son Muhkriz.What they told me is that Muhkriz is a new man and even though he is naïve in politics, he has the charisma to lead the state. Moreover, he is clean. But BN must also not ignore Dr Mahathir in its campaign because from what I gathered from the grassroots members, his presence may bring Kedah back to BN,” Ramli said.

However, there are some local leaders in Kedah who would not take too kindly to Mukhriz’s elevation if Najib decides to tap his shoulder. But Ramli believes the resentment was normal and would fade in time.

“The important point here is that Kedah BN needs a charismatic leader, a new man who has no record whatsoever. In this case, if it’s Mukhriz, it will be easier to win the hearts and minds of the voters because they still respect his father,” Ramli said. “So in my opinion half the battle will be won if Najib picks Mukhriz,” he added.

Thus, the battle for BN in Kedah is a matter of personality – the man who will lead the state after the general election. It all depends on Najib who he wants in the driver’s seat. After all, BN Kedah needs just four more seats to win the state. BN now has 16 out of the 36 state seats (UMNO has 14, MCA one and Gerakan one).

From Euphoria to Doom: Wither Pakatan Rakyat?


March 9, 2011

http://masterwordsmith-unplugged.blogspot.com

From Euphoria to Doom: 3rd Anniversary of 2008 Political Tsunami

by Masterwordsmith-Unplugged

“Today, 8th March 2011, is the third anniversary of the 8th March 2008 ‘Revolution’. Has the Revolution lost steam? Will the next general election see the opposition make more gains or is it downhill from hereon? This is what many are asking and most are of the opinion that March 2008 was a flash-in-the-pan. The next general election is not for Barisan Nasional to win but for Pakatan Rakyat to lose” –Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK)

Actually, I did not want to write about the 3rd anniversary of the 2008 tsunami because there is nothing to celebrate. In fact, I hang my head down in shame for all that has been happening. From a high point of euphoria, we have descended into the doldrums of doom with hope that seems to be diminishing by the day. In his latest post HERE, RPK said that “The next general election is not for Barisan Nasional to win but for Pakatan Rakyat to lose.” What led to this despondent state of affairs?

Are we really headed for doom? Where is the hero that will prevent us from being decimated by all the squabbling and controversies? What do we see at the moment? Top on the list is the fast diminishing support from voters who are unlikely to continue to stand behind Pakatan Rakyat candidates who refuse to stand TOGETHER for Malaysians. However, is there really increasing support for BN? The record shows that both coalitions have won eight of 16 by-elections which means that when the next GE comes, anything could happen so it is not the end until the fat lady sings.

Pakatan Rakyat: Facing the Backlash of the Gambling Ban

Time and time again many have asked PR to take the bull by the horns and deal with issues e.g PKR internal problems, the PAS gambling ban etc. but have they done what is needed? Have they put the rakyat first in their deliberations and actions? They have to be serious in their leadership role not only because it is the right thing to do for us Malaysians but because to do otherwise would be absolutely foolish and politically self-destructive.

However, at a time when the PR leaders should come together and reason to see how to attack the common enemy, they are facing the backlash from voters because of the gambling ban. It is not so much the public outcry against gambling per se but rather the insensitivity to the needs of those of different religious beliefs and the impact on illegal gambling. In other words, PR is digging its own grave at an unprecedented speed what with:

* the departure of Zaid Ibrahim and the formation of KITA.
* the internal squabbles of PKR.
* Selangor water woes.
* Sodomy II trial.
* defections.
* the absence of public statements from the coalition as contrasted by differing views from leaders of the coalition such as on the gambling ban.
* the increasing distrust and fear/wariness of PAS.
* failure to deliver.
* how the needs of the rakyat have NOT been prioritized.
* the gambling ban.
* poor public relations strategies.
* failure to handle internal problems and to deal with objections/public outcry
* and many other shameful issues which have been headline news.

Are our politicians too proud to admit that they have erred? Have they been so complacent with the high points of the 2008 victories and the aftermath to the extent that they are of no earthly use because they have yet to come down from their cloud 9?

Are they busy taking care of their own turf and bickering over seats for the next elections? Are they foolishly complacent into thinking that the disgruntled rakyat WILL support them?

Knock, knock knock! Reality bites! Real hard bites too! Pakatan MUST consolidate. They MUST come together to see how best they can go to battle. This is the time to improve their artillery, train their foot-soldiers, improve their public relations techniques, spruce up their report card, go down to the grass root levels to seek out support and to lobby instead of floating around in their airy-fairy land doing sword-fighting antics against their friends instead of foes!!!

Pakatan Rakyat MUST remember that the rakyat are their bosses and if we are NOT happy in our appraisal of what has and has NOT been done, we will have no qualms about showing them the door just as we did to BN in the previous election.

Honestly, I do not understand their warped mentality. At this time, BN is at full turbo speed zooming to the rakyat, forking out aid, giving out goodies, delivering well-written speeches, painting a hunky dory pic of BN while PR members are taking turns to shoot themselves in the foot.

Good heavens! Please stop all this monkeying around and get down to the brass tags of serving the people. Time is running out, you are playing in injury time and there have been too many red cards issued to you.

Wise up or prepare to be shipped out! That, my dear, is the hefty price you may have to pay for your false pride and complacency!

Dr Dzul on Kerdau and Merlimau


March 7, 2011

After Kerdau and Merlimau–Reform or Face a National Revolt!

by Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad  (March 6, 2011)

I’m fully conscious of how the BN’s mainstream media (MSM) would demonise and ostracise me for what I’m about to say. I’m nonetheless going to say it in simple and unequivocal term. Simply put, if I were to call the shot in N28 Kerdau by-election, I would want my party to boycott the election. Period.

The BN’s MSM would then have a field day in making PAS their punching bag and would go to town for weeks on end on this huge political meal. They would be apparently vindicated for all their claims that the opposition is bankrupt of ideas and issues to fight them on any further political contestation.

On the back of the looming 13th General Election (GE) coming ever closer, the decision to boycott would arguably be a political suicide for PAS and the Pakatan. Political analysts might argue that the opposition has finally succumbed to the psychological war of the BN’s ‘propagandist firepower’. It doesn’t take a pundit to tell you that.

That’s the usual ‘in-the-box-kind-of-thinking’ that invariably ends up in political parties quite unwilling to brace drastic unconventional ideas and maneuvers. That’s the thinking that underpins the predictable decision of most political parties of whatever ideological persuasions in the face of challenging situation.

What’s my rationale for proposing this drastic action? Am I already conceding defeat on the 11th hours? Am I now perceived as mitigating the adverse impact of another PAS’ defeat? Say what you like.

I’ve been part of the strategic teams of many a by-election especially after the 12th GE. Some we have won and others we lost. The sweetest victory was of course Kuala Terengganu and the more bitter defeat was Galas. On both occasions power changed hands.

Quite contrary to the idea of running from defeat, I have a strange feeling that Kerdau is fast making me upbeat especially towards its finishing line. I’m not commenting on Merlimau as I’m not aware of the realities on ‘ground-zero’ in that BN’s state of Melaka.

Let me say it again. I’m not looking for an upset in Kerdau but is seriously hoping for a reduction of the majority the BN’s candidate secured in the last GE.

I’m not being wishful but given our campaign ‘blitz’ which put the Pahang’s MB defenceless to the finishing line, this writer is hardly surprised if the voters so decide to protest against UMNO-BN’s decades of malaise and negligence.

No one in his right frame of mind would miss noticing that Kerdau is a ‘cowboy’ town. After 53 years Kerdau has never got on to be in the radar of development. It’s the PM’s home state mind you. So simply said again, I’m not running from defeat.

However, this piece is at best purely academic as far as a boycott is concerned, as polling is well underway for both Merlimau and Kerdau, before this writer could publish or upload this piece.

But I felt the compelling need to say and share it with the entire nation, before the results are announced this evening. I’m dead serious. If anything this piece and the likes of this writing, if widely enough read and disseminated, could very well be the genesis of a pending ‘national revolt’, not quite like the middle-eastern turmoil now on world stage that Najib dreaded.

But strangely quite alike though, as it will also represent the utter disdain and hatred of the rakyat or the citizens, for what is here now dubbed in “Political Science” as an ‘Electoral Authoritarianism’ (EA). Malaysia is now listed as one by the author of ‘The Logics of Electoral Authoritarianism”, Professor Andres Schedler (2006).

Simply defined, EA is how government abuses power as to distort and contain a true electoral competition and denies equal access to the media of competing parties and subverts a free and fair election.

In the eyes of an enlarging enlightened sections of the Malaysian electorates and citizenry, Malaysia is indeed guilty of perpetuating ‘electoral authoritarianism’ with impunity. For that, Najib and his cohorts please take note!

If PM Najib wants to put the “Ben-Ali-Mubaarak-Gaddafi-type Revolt” at bay in our beloved land of Malaysia, act urgently to redress and reform the many excesses and sins on ‘electoral authoritarianism’ that has continued unabated for far too long in this country!

My arguments, with respect to a boycott call on Kerdau by-election and now urging immediate reform, are essentially premised on, but not limited to the following basis and evidences.

  1. Najib now infamous saying, “We don’t buy votes, but if you support us we can increase your allocation tomorrow or later. But show support for Barisan Nasional first”. Now that could only equal to his atrocious words of “You help me, I help you” in Sibu i.e his promise of delivering RM5 million on Monday if Robert Lau wins on Sunday now is iconised as the ultimate of ‘vote-buying’ in the lexicology of our local EA. If that is not vote-buying, what is?
  2. Najib began as early as on the second day of the campaign period to blitz Kerdau with ‘goodies’ and handouts as follows: RM400,000 for a hall in Kampong Seri Kerdau, RM150,000 for a Balai Bomba, RM100,000 for Hindu Temple and RM9.25millions on a water treatment plant in Batu Sawar. That’s a hefty RM10.4million, well exceeding the constituency budget allocation. Where are funds coming from? UMNO’s coffers or cronies’ or tax-payers’?
  3. Abuse of usage of public premises for party political campaign listed below:
    1. Public Field in Teluk Sentang,
    2. Mosques and Schools in Batu Sawar,
    3. Community Hall in Jengka 23 Felda,
    4. Broadband Centre for Jengka 25
    5. Community Hall in Kuala Tekal
    6. Kerdau’s Felda’s office.
  4. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan’s announcement that the federal government will settle the CESS payment of RM13,000 for each settler in Jengka 22 next Monday is a surely a covert inducement for settlers to vote for BN come polling day for the Kerdau by-election on Sunday. (Cess payments are monies deducted from the sale of rubber for the purpose of replanting rubber plantations with oil palm. However, when settlers made the decision to switch from rubber to oil palm in 2004, cess payments worth RM12,000 that each settler had accumulated over the course of more than 20 years were not paid by Felda. Felda had paid the settlers RM5,000 each but the Land Development Authority still owes the settlers RM13,000 each, including interest). The bone of contention is why only pay those in the Jengka 22 in the N28 Kerdau constituency, while all Felda settlers Pahang have long been waiting for what are rightly theirs!
  5. The vicious and baseless attack on Dato’ Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the Director for PAS’ Strategic Centre for the N28 Kerdau by-election by the MSM. The footage was widely covered and repeated by the BN’s TV channels including the ‘independent’  TV3.  This should be the last straw of it all. Seen and peceived by many as failing to respond to all the allegations of a failing Pahang state, as concertedly attacked by PAS’ election machinery, as depicted by Auditor General’s report, UMNO took the final hours of campaign to level a smear campaign on him, accusing him of abusing and capitalizing on a Felda settler’s financial hardship to his advantage. All these heinous hate campaign were fortunately clarified by those involved but wasn’t at all featured in the BN’s MSM. Abuse of MSM and denial of opposition’s right to MSM has become more rampant of late.

Based on a snap-shot of the abuses and excesses of a regime that practices “Electoral Authoritarianism”, I for one would not have hesitated to give the Election Commission and now Najib an ultimatum –Respond or face a National Revolt!

For the information of all well-wishers of democracy and in all fairness to us in PAS/Pakatan, we had submitted on 2 occasions, memorandum to the EC, MACC and the PDRM in protest of all these abuses and subversion of democracy.

It does not take a lawyer to be telling you that Najib and his cohorts are abusing the provision of the Election Offences Act of 1954 aimed at curbing abuses and corrupt practices of contending parties in an electoral process.

It is the conviction of this writer that Malaysia may not well see the equivalent of the Middle Eastern upheaval soonest. But if this regime persists and perpetuates “Electoral Authoritarianism” with little or no regards for the demands of electoral reform by both civil society and opposition political parties, Najib is indeed courting the like of another and bigger peaceful assembly of 500,000 protestors @well-wishers of democracy prior the 13th GE.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Member, PAS Central Working Committee and Malaysia MP for Kuala Selangor.

The Najib Factor in Merlimau and Kerdau


March 7, 2011

The Najib Factor in Merlimau and Kerdau By-Elections

By Jahabar Sadiq
Editor, The Malaysian Insider

ANALYSIS — In just three years, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has promoted himself and his agenda to revive Barisan Nasional’s (BN) fortunes for another string of by-election wins yesterday while Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has floundered due to a cohesive strategy and policy.

BN won both the Merlimau and Kerdau state seats with significantly higher majorities than in Election 2008, where it had lost 82 Parliament seats and four state governments to a loose political pact led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The pact later coalesced as PR but remains as loose as it was on March 8, 2008 when it shattered the veneer of popularity for then-Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his UMNO, the dominant partner in the BN.

Abdullah never recovered from the blow of Election 2008, just four years after he brought BN to its biggest victory ever in the 2004 elections where the ruling coalition won 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats and all states except Kelantan which PAS has kept since 1990.

Najib took over in April 2009, weighed down by scurrilous gossip that linked him to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder and an UMNO that could no longer command the majority of Malay support, its raison d’etre since the party was first founded in 1946.

Instead of pushing a damaged UMNO and a hurt BN, Najib has pushed himself to the fore with economic policies and a moderate tone to win over Malaysians, including the Indian community that deserted the ruling coalition in the aftermath of the HINDRAF march in November 2007.

He started with 1 Malaysia, proceeding to unveil his New Economic Model (NEM) with the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and later the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) which covers nearly 200 projects and business opportunities.

The jury is out on the programmes and the funding but Najib has enjoyed a comfortable level of personal popularity since succeeding Abdullah, although UMNO itself has yet to recover from the bruising Election 2008.

A measure of his success is the young candidates UMNO has put up in the last three by-elections, or whom Najib has dubbed “winnable candidates” in his quest to renew and reform the party revived by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after it was declared illegal in 1988.

“Basically, even if you don’t trust UMNO, you can trust Najib. That’s the message,” an analyst told The Malaysian Insider last night. The analyst also said facing Najib in the past two years has been an increasingly rudderless PR where de facto chief Anwar has been distracted by yet another sodomy trial, the first which pushed him out of contention as prime minister in 1998.

Anwar has thus far kept quiet over this past week’s brewing spat between allies PAS and DAP over Kelantan’s anti-gambling laws. All three parties had ironically promised last year not to allow football pools which was initially licensed to a Berjaya Group unit but has since been rescinded.

“PR is far from united as Anwar is the glue for PR but the trial is taking its toll and has reduced him to a figurehead,” said a PR leader who declined to be named.

In many ways, he added, the past three years have seen a reversal in fortunes for both Najib and Anwar.“Anwar led us to a string of victories from Election 2008 to some of the by-elections but that seems so far away now. Najib is on the rise,” warned the leader.

“We have to get our act straight, work on our strengths and ensure the momentum of 2008 is not lost,” he added.

For the record, PR has won eight out of the 15 by-elections held since Election 2008.Political analyst Datuk Dr Zainal Kling said the double win last night could be used as a benchmark of public support although the political tsunami that swept during the 2008 general election has not subsided.

“This is because we are yet to be sure of support by urban voters but there are signs that public support has returned to BN,” he told state news agency Bernama.Zainal said this was due to hard work by Najib who created policies like the GTP, ETP and National Key Result Areas (NKRA).

“The BN government has to double its efforts to maintain the existing momentum, because the opposition always come out with plans and agenda to attract interest of the people,” he said.

INTI International University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid said BN cannot be too comfortable with the wins as history has showed that small errors can lead to a political tsunami like in 2008.

“However, Barisan Nasional is now on the right track to face the next general election,” he told Bernama.Najib has not indicated when the general election is but last night’s victories and the impending Sarawak state polls appear to suggest that it could be as soon as this year, as he said in an interview with the Reuters news agency during last week’s official visit to Australia.

UMNO officials have cautioned Najib against calling for snap polls soon as the party has yet to recover its popularity, an UMNO warlord told The Malaysian Insider recently.

“We briefed him about the preparations on the ground but told him he might be popular but the party isn’t as popular as him,” the warlord said, attributing most of the wins to Najib’s policies.

In yesterday’s polling, BN retained the Merlimau state seat when UMNO’s Roslan Ahmad defeated PAS candidate Yuhaizad Abdullah with a majority of 3,643 votes. Roslan obtained 5,962 votes compared with Yuhaizad’s 2,319.

In Kerdau, BN candidate Syed Ibrahim Syed Ahmad defeated PAS candidate Hasanuddin Salim by a majority of 2,724 votes. Syed Ibrahim obtained 5,060 votes to Hasanuddin’s 2,336 votes.–http://www.themalaysianinsider.com