Malaysia’s Ms. Reformasi speaks her mind in OSLO


May 26, 2015

Phnom Penh

Malaysia’s Ms. Reformasi speaks her mind in OSLO

OSLO, May 26 — Five years ago my father, Anwar Ibrahim, delivered a speech right here on Nurul-Izzah-Anwarthis very stage entitled ‘Half A Century of One Party Rule’. He was talking about my country, Malaysia, which has been dominated by the same party for more than 50 years.

That same year here at the Oslo Freedom Forum my father spoke on the same stage as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who declared that: “When you meet Anwar, be careful.” During his visit to Malaysia, Julian was detained by secret police just hours after speaking to my father.

My father – a popular and unifying figure in my country’s history – is seen as a very dangerous man by the UMNO party regime. When he served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in the 1990s, he amended the corruption act to further strengthen it – which displeased the political elites – and by September 1998 his anti-corruption campaign led to his sacking from government, arrest, his beating under custody whilst blindfolded and handcuffed, and his eventual sentence and imprisonment in trials that were condemned by rights organisations and governments worldwide.

Initially, it was announced that at least 20 charges would be brought against my father; including treachery, being an American and Israeli agent, corruption and sodomy. They did forget to throw in the kitchen sink. They jailed him for six years, much of which he spent in solitary confinement.

Anwar’s trials earned Malaysia our own International Commission of Jurists report– the very same body that observed Nelson Mandela’s flawed trial. It was entitled: Justice in Jeopardy, Malaysia 2000.

As I speak to you today, Anwar, my father, and the former Opposition Leader of Malaysia, is behind bars again on his second trumped-up charges of sodomy.

I have been told that of the nearly 200 speakers in this conference’s history, only four are in jail right now: my father, Nayeel Rajab from Bahrain, Thulani Maseko from Swaziland, Leopoldo Lopez from Venezuela. The Malaysian regime keeps some very authoritarian company.

Malaysia without AnwarSpecifically, for my father, this is his third incarceration since 1998. He is now in urgent need of medical attention. My father was also a political prisoner in his youth; when he was about my age. Thankfully, he grew more handsome over the years but no less rebellious.

The year 1998 brought the historic Asian Financial Crisis and my father’s imprisonment to Malaysia. Equally important for me, it marked my own political awakening.

As a child I wanted to be an engineer, and I would have pursued that if it wasn’t for the events of 1998. Well, I owe the Malaysian government many thanks for getting me involved in politics. Really, I do.

If my government didn’t abuse institutions – influencing the Judiciary, rigging votes, controlling the media, if they didn’t use force to shut their opponents up – my father would be free, and I might be working for Shell or any other decent oil and gas company. Or maybe not – not with oil at 60 dollars a barrel.

Well, now it is not just Anwar who is Malaysia’s most wanted. It also includes me and the whole opposition, the movement for free and fair elections (Bersih), and many others demanding for a democratic and just Malaysia.

In our last national elections in 2013, Anwar Ibrahim led the opposition to victory, winning 52 per cent of the popular vote. But he was defeated by extreme gerrymandering, malapportionment and election fraud. The ruling coalition clung to power by holding on to 60 per cent of the seats.

The Electoral Integrity Project, based in Sydney and Harvard University recently rated Malaysia as having the worst electoral-district boundaries in the world and among the worst election rules. This places Malaysia alongside countries like Zimbabwe, Angola and Egypt.

The government’s gerrymandering was compounded by the abuse of postal votes. In fact, out of 222 seats we lost almost 30 to postal votes and early votes alone! And since those flawed elections in 2013; almost 20 Members of Parliament and state legislators have been charged, arrested, and locked up, along with 150 others including lecturers, students, journalists, even cartoonist and ordinary citizens.

So now you might be thinking, “What about you, Izzah?”

Growing up, I was a prefect, and like the rest of you here – never smoked pot in my entire life. I played by the rules. I was a model example of a compliant citizen who wanted to go along and get along.

But, mind you, thanks to the corruption, oppression and sheer injustice of the Malaysian government, this girl scout is now a second term Member of Parliament – defeating two sitting Ministers along the way – thanks to my electorate who voted in favour of reforms.

In March, I was recently arrested and locked up for a speech I made on behalf of my father in Parliament.

Yes, beautiful, sunny, twin towers-clad Malaysia. But Members of Parliament have zero parliamentary immunity and can be arrested for sedition.

The whole experience of being a political prisoner in Malaysia is quite bizarre. We have a draconian 67-year-old prison rules that forbid slippers, for example, as the government claims they could be used for suicide. The colonial British laws the Malaysian government loves to preserve.

So you spend the night sleeping on the floor only to be asked questions such as:“Who is this Devil you referred to in your speech made in parliament?”

You see, I had condemned the Federal Court judges in my father’s case for having sold their souls to the Devil. I said this because Malaysia needed judicial reform. Along with electoral reform and fighting for a multiracial Malaysia – where diversity is seen as a strength, not something that divides us.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and his wife Rosmah Mansor (R) arrive at the airport in Tokyo on May 24, 2015. Najib is on a three day visit to Japan.   AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and his wife Rosmah Mansor (R) arrive at the airport in Tokyo on May 24, 2015. Najib is on a three day visit to Japan. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Reformists in my country are the most wanted, and the most feared by our government. Why? Because we are the future – with a zeal for reforms.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those who clamour for an end to the unequal distribution of wealth and against corruption and extravagance of the men or women who govern over us.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those who despair that our children receive low international education rankings – at one point we were surpassed by Vietnam!

Malaysia’s most wanted are those, who reject the use of racial and religious extremism to scare indigenous Malays into voting for the status quo.

Malaysia’s most wanted are those, who realise anti-terrorism laws are often just guises to justify the detention of political dissenters in the name of ‘security and stability.’

Malaysia’s most wanted, who are sick to the bone with failed governance and mammoth financial scandals. Most recently is the controversial government investment fund, 1MDB has burdened Malaysia with a RM42 billion debt.

The Prime Minister also the Finance Minister is the chairman of 1MDB’s board of advisors. Dubious financial dealings now go hand in hand with the Malaysian government.

Shout out to Mr Tom Burgis – meet our very own Sam Pa.Malaysia’s most wanted are the young generation of Malaysia, who up to 88 per cent voted for my party in the recently concluded Permatang Pauh by-elections.

My father’s seat – which he lost upon his conviction – has been retained by our party, despite the enormous political and financial obstacles put in our way by the regime. Malaysia’s most wanted will not give up. Just last week, the Opposition Coalition chose my mother as Malaysia’s Opposition Leader. They can’t lock all of us up. The reformist might be behind bars but the reform agenda stays true.

We know that more of the world will see beyond the Petronas Twin Towers and give more attention to us, Malaysia’s most wanted, the rising dissidents and democrats who refuse to accept the current government.

So what of the future you ask? I’ll tell you. The future belongs and will be determined by Malaysia’s most wanted.

Long live reforms. Long live reformasi!And thank you Thor and the selfless team at Oslo Freedom Forum for allowing Malaysians to live in truth.

God bless you.

* The above is the text of the speech delivered by Nurul Izzah as the first speaker at the Oslo Freedom Forum in Norway.

– See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/malaysias-most-wanted-nurul-izzah#sthash.1LHXfjov.dpuf

Advice for Malaysian Politicians–Think Before You Speak


April 13, 2015

Advice for Malaysian Politicians–Think Before You Speak

by Scott Ng @www,freemalaysiatoday.com

Ahmad-Maslan-GST

There have lately been ministers who were “misquoted”, especially when their statements caused an uproar for – well, let’s face it – the sheer utter inanity of their own words. It’s become quite par for the course for a BN minister to make a statement and then realise that he has put his foot in his mouth after social media and civil society inevitably erupt with criticism. And then he would say he had been misquoted to make him look bad.

And these eminent people would be right to complain, had they actually not said those things. This makes me wonder about the quality of some of the biggest names in power. All claim to be highly educated or qualified in certain fields, and yet cannot seem to string together sentences in an inoffensive manner.

Perhaps this comes from not doing research on the matter at hand or not thinking long and hard before speaking. Nonetheless, you’d expect an elected representative to do better when addressing the public. After all, a politician lives and dies by his words, and mastery of public relations skills is a must for anyone who attempts to address a group of people, much less a nation.

It doesn’t matter that you spoke for X amount of hours on topic Y, because when you say something so undeniably ridiculous the people and the media cannot resist pouncing on such an easy target.

One example is Ahmad Maslan’s suggestion to university students to cook their own meals. Now, this would be a perfectly sensible suggestion, if one did not consider the extenuating circumstances around campus life. For one, you can cook only if one is in a kitchen, and rented house or not, universities tend to be some distance from a house, and classes are sometimes at odd hours. We also have to remember that whatever spare time a student has is usually put into studying.

Of course, there’s also the teensy, tiny little fact that you can’t cook on campus or in campus housing, where the other half of the student population stays.

Now, the brickbats hurled at such an ill-considered suggestion have led to Maslan complaining on television that we’re being unfair to him. To a certain extent, of course, trial by public opinion is often an unfair process. But can you blame people who are struggling to make ends meet for being frustrated with our ministers being so seemingly out of touch with the real world when what we need are men of the people who can give out well-reasoned advice and show sympathy with us in difficult times?

Don’t even get me started on how much ministers will protest about being misquoted when the GST inevitably causes horrible inflation.

It’s almost mind blowing, really, for our ministers to continually use the term “misquoted” in defending themselves. That speaks of a careless, laissez faire attitude that is endemic to being privileged and pampered, and our ministers and politicians ( of both sides of the political divide) really need to get in touch with the people if they want to have any hope of public approval. Until that fateful day, it is going to be a fact of life for our politicians that they will be castigated and reviled for failing to recognise the needs of the people.

Ismail Sabri on Najib

We’ve gone on time and time again on how we need a better class of politicians, and this is proof beyond proof that pampered elites need to get their shoes scuffed and soiled once in a while, or else they will forget how real life plays out for a normal person. One can only hope then that we won’t see the word “misquoted” bandied about by those who fail to properly consider the words coming out of their mouths.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s New Year Message


December 31, 2014

This is what the Prime Minister said in his New Year Message and I quote: “Our economy is on track to grow by 5.7% this year, and 4.7% in 2015. Our deficit is falling, our reserves are strong; we have trusted financial institutions, low unemployment, and record levels of foreign investment. Malaysia’s economy is well placed to weather any storms.” All I can say is that I hope our Prime Minister is right. For my part, I am less optimistic and so I urge Malaysians to be more realistic.  Let us be prepared since 2015 is likely to be a difficult year.  — Din Merican

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s New Year Message

Twelve months ago, in my New Year message, I looked forward to a ‘prosperous and united’ Malaysia. 2014 did bring prosperity for Malaysia – our economy grew strongly. But it was also the year we were united in grief.

In the space of a few months, we lost 93 Malaysians. And we found ourselves at the centre of the world’s attention – not once, but twice.

The disappearance of MH370, and the destruction of MH17, are part of our story now. My heart reaches out to those who lost loved ones; and I share their sorrow. Like so many Malaysians, my family too was touched by tragedy.

This has been the most challenging year of my career – and one of the most difficult years in Malaysia’s history. But I take heart from the way we came together, as one nation, to #prayforMH370 and #prayforMH17.

In mosques, churches and temples, in shopping malls and online, Malaysians responded to these tragedies as one. In the face of two unimaginable disasters, we found unity. I believe we will come out of these twin tragedies stronger and more determined. We have been tested by disaster, but the spirit of the nation remains strong.

I am proud of the way we responded to these crises. We did not get everything right, but when MH370 went missing, we were able to bring together 26 nations – including China and the US – in a search that spanned half the globe. When Malaysia asked, the world answered.

And a few months later, when we found ourselves in the middle of a conflict zone, Malaysia was able to get the breakthrough that no one else could – securing the return of the bodies and black boxes from MH17. Quiet diplomacy helped bring us closer to finding out what happened to MH17, and securing justice for those who died.

Najib and Obama in Hawaii

Najib: “We are used to floods in Malaysia. But I was shocked by how bad the situation became”.Really, Sir!

At the end of the year, we faced new challenges. Northern states suffered terrible flooding, with lives, homes and livelihoods lost to the rising waters.

We are used to floods in Malaysia. But I was shocked by how bad the situation became. The scale of the destruction was profound, with so many people going through intense personal suffering. The Government’s priority is to get help to people who need it now – with the supplies and assistance for those who are stranded or displaced – and financial support, so that people can get their lives back together.

An aerial view of flooded streets of the National Park in Kuala Tahan, Pahang

Next year, our priority is recovery: to rebuild the infrastructure, the businesses and the homes that were damaged or lost. We must ensure that the development we pursue is environmentally friendly, so that we are not making future floods more likely – or more damaging.

As we continue the rescue and rebuilding operations, I pray for those who are still at risk. And our thoughts are with our brothers and sisters in Indonesia, as they continue the recovery of Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501.

Yet amidst the tragedies, there were high points too. 2014 was also the year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China. In Beijing, I stood in the hall my father visited back in 1974, and pledged that China and Malaysia would remain ‘partners for prosperity; connected by history, and firm in our commitment to peace’.

We also welcomed a US President for the first time in five decades. Back in 1966, Lyndon B Johnson saw rubber plantations; President Obama met young Malaysian computer programmers and entrepreneurs. It is hard to think of a better example of Malaysia’s remarkable development.

Every year, our country grows in stature. And every year the outside world takes a greater interest in Malaysia – in our people, our history and our future. These trends are set to continue in 2015, as we assume a bigger role in our region, and the world.

Next year we will chair ASEAN, as we prepare to launch the ASEAN Community. This is a momentous time for ASEAN, for its member states, and for the people of South East Asia. In 2015, under Malaysia’s chairmanship, we will lay the foundations for deeper regional integration. For the people of ASEAN, this will mean more opportunities – with more jobs, and easier ways to do business.

In 2015, we will also hold a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Far from just a diplomatic badge of pride, this is a chance for Malaysia to state our support for key objectives – including a dignified and secure future for the Palestinian people – and make a real contribution to global security problems.

Clearly, Malaysia will play a much bigger part in world affairs in the year to come. It is important that we continue to be a positive player, pushing the issues that we care about, and representing our people, our interests and our businesses. That is the only way we can ensure that Malaysian and South East Asian voices are heard.

But despite all the global attention, my focus is on the rakyat. Next year, I hope we can build a safer, more prosperous, and more equal society. The starting point is security. My greatest responsibility as Prime Minister is to ensure the safety and security of the Malaysian people. In recent years we have seen increasing threats from terrorist groups within Malaysia. In addition to our existing programmes to combat terrorism, we have also introduced a new terrorism white paper.

We are also strengthening our co-operation with foreign intelligence agencies, because the threat of violent extremism goes way beyond our borders. The so-called Islamic State continues to try to tempt people to join their war. Although they have had most success recruiting from Western nations, some Malaysians have fallen victim to this propaganda.

Our position is quite clear. As I said at the UN General Assembly this year, ‘the actions of these militants… violate the teachings of Islam, the example set by the Prophet Mohammed, and the principles of Islamic law. We reject this so-called Islamic State. We reject this state defined by extremism. And we condemn the violence being committed in the name of Islam’.

Yet security for Malaysians is not just about protection from violence, but also about social and economic security. So in the year to come, I also want to focus on maintaining our economic record, and strengthening the bonds between our people.

In a globalised economy, risks can spread far and fast. No country is isolated from global events. We have already had a taste of the challenges that will come in 2015, with the falling oil price over the past few weeks affecting everything from the ringgit to rubber.

Cheaper oil is a double-edged sword. It makes some things cheaper for consumers, but it also reduces government revenues – money we spend on development and support for the people.

Other nations are facing the same challenges, and some are already under great stress. Yet Malaysia has been fortunate to escape the worst downsides – because the fundamentals of our economy are still strong.

Our economy is on track to grow by 5.7% this year, and 4.7% in 2015. Our deficit is falling, our reserves are strong; we have trusted financial institutions, low unemployment, and record levels of foreign investment. Malaysia’s economy is well placed to weather any storms.

In last year’s message, I talked about how we were getting our finances under control whilst the global economy was strong.I wrote that ‘by acting responsibly now, we will strengthen Malaysia’s economy in the long-term – and the benefits will be felt much more widely. By taking the steps needed to make Malaysia’s economy stronger, we are not only protecting our nation against financial crises, we are also opening up new jobs – and new opportunities’.

We need to be proactive, to build a resilient economy that is prepared for any eventuality. With global events causing problems for many countries, I am pleased that we have already taken measures to protect our economy. Just last week, the World Bank confirmed that Malaysia remains in a strong position precisely because we acted to rationalise subsidies.

But keeping economy resilient means constantly anticipating risks, and acting to strengthen the economy whenever possible. It is with this in mind that we are introducing the GST next year. The GST will replace, not add to, the existing sales tax – and many goods will be exempt. It will help strengthen the government finances, so that we can continue productive expenditure – on things like roads, schools and hospitals – for the benefit of the people. And alongside the GST, we will continue the reforms to make our economy more competitive, which will bring more opportunities for our businesses, and higher income for the people.

Although we are exposed to global risks, we have strong fundamentals, and clear and consistent government policy. So I am confident that Malaysia’s economy will continue to grow, and bring more jobs and a better standard of living.

Our challenge is to ensure that that applies for all Malaysians, not just a few. In the months and years ahead, I want us to focus not just on GDP growth figures, but on the lives and needs of the rakyat. Although Malaysia’s economic performance has been exceptional, I know that people do not always feel they are getting their piece of our national success.

So alongside our efforts to strengthen our economy – by raising incomes, reducing spending, and boosting productivity – we will also work to reduce inequality by narrowing the gap between the rich and poor.

Last year, I said I looked forward to a more prosperous and united Malaysia. Although this has been a difficult year, we have achieved both. In 2015, as we prepare to play a bigger role on the world stage, I want us to work together to build a safer, more prosperous, and more equal society. I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

Book Review: ‘The Innovators,’ by Walter Isaacson


October 4, 2014

Sunday Book Review

Geek Squad

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/books/review/the-innovators-by-walter-isaacson.html?ref=review

Innovators--Book

‘The Innovators,’ by Walter Isaacson

Religious Extremism returns around the globe


October 3, 2014

Religious Extremism returns around the globe

by Pankaj Mishra@Bloomberg

Boko HaramDenunciations of “religious extremism,” always commonplace, have never sounded more persuasive as Islamic State and Boko Haram go on murderous rampages and sectarian killers enjoy political respectability in places such as Pakistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken out a fresh lease on Christianity’s old compact with imperialism. Many prominent rabbis in Israel have ignored the 19th-century conflict between Judaism and Zionism to sanction the messianic aims of settlers in the West Bank.

Non-monotheistic religions do not seem to have fared much better despite their explicit commitments to diversity and pluralist practice. In the past two decades, Hindu nationalists have sought self-affirmation in grisly acts of violence against minorities. Buddhist monks have led lynch mobs in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and they have proudly turned out as soldiers in Thailand’s counterinsurgency campaign in the southern provinces.

If the so-called “return” of religion shocks us, it is because we are too accustomed to reading its premature obituary. A range from European prophets, from Marx to Max Weber, shared the belief that democracy, economic growth, technology and mass culture would wean people away from reliance on the supernatural and usher them into a truly “disenchanted” secular world. As the process of modernisation moved from the West to the non-West, religion would retreat from the public into the private sphere.

obama-isis-beheading-zerohedge

For much of the world’s population, however, religion has continued to provide the basic vocabulary for conversations about society, politics, law and the good life. In fact, the threatening incursions of the West and the modern world in the 19th century stimulated a reinterpretation of religious faith and identity in many Asian and African countries.

The calls for jihad against the British in India and the revolt of the Mahdi in Sudan are well-documented instances of Islamist mobilisation against the all-conquering West. Many of the leading thinkers of the non-Muslim world ― Han Yongun in Korea, Taixu in China, Anagarika Dharampala in Sri Lanka, U Dhammaloka in Burma, Swami Vivekananda in India ― also hoped for a properly organized Buddhism or Hinduism to provide the basis for national strength, solidarity and identity in the modern world.

In many cases, their fondest dreams ― and worst fears ― have been realised. Buddhist nationalism is no longer an oxymoron in Sri Lanka. Fringe believers in “Akhand Bharat” or Undivided India seem to have hijacked the mainstream discourse of secular nationalism in India.

But then, modern nationalism itself has the symbolism and ritual of religion: a missionary belief in cultural distinctiveness, a political theology that includes declarations of independence and constitutions, and civic liturgies demanding reverence for the flag and founding fathers. Religious symbols and narratives have long permeated even the evidently secularised West.

Irish nationalism identified itself with Catholicism; the Welsh broke en masse with Anglicanism in the 19th century to define their own national identity. The American Revolution was preceded and followed by a great efflorescence of Protestant denominations.

Republican France, from which the creed of progressive secularisation is drawn, has always been exceptional. Nevertheless, Nicolas Sarkozy revealed an unalterable fact when he claimed that Europe’s roots are essentially Christian.

Queen Elizabeth remains the Head of the Church of England. Even today, Germany finances its churches and allows them to tax their members. The constitutionally mandated separation of church and state doesn’t prevent religion from influencing politics in the US. A sense of providential mission infuses the rhetoric of US foreign policy.

Clearly, our faith in the miracle of secular modernization defies all evidence of the intensity, persistence and variety of religious belief in the West as well as the East. More fatefully, it hinders us from questioning whether there is such a thing as the purely secular.

Zionism was aggressively anti-religious in its European origins. But its basic goals ― redemption of the “promised land” and revival of the Hebrew language ― were informed by theological notions.

The Indian claim to an Undivided India, whose mythology-inspired map includes all of South Asia, has been advanced at different times by “secular” members of the Congress party as well as Hindu fanatics.

We have assumed too easily ― and complacently ― the moral superiority and eventual triumph of the “secular.” But Islamic State has more in common with the utopia of the fanatically secular Khmer Rouge than anything in the long history of Islam. We need fresher ideas to understand the great violence of our times, which is far from being explained by diehard secularists blustering against religious extremism. ― Bloomberg View

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

http://www.themalaymailonline.com

Malaysian Leader’s Standing Rises With Successful Cellphone Diplomacy


July 24, 2014

Asia Pacific |​NYT Now. http://www.nytimes.com

Malaysian Leader’s Standing Rises With Successful Cellphone Diplomacy

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Intervention on Flight MH 17 Pays Off

by Keith Bradsher, Chris Buckley and David M. Herszenhorn, July 23, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — It wasn’t an aide or a diplomat on the phone with pro-Russian rebels, trying to get them to relinquish the bodies and the “black boxes” from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 in eastern Ukraine — it was the leader of Malaysia himself.

najib and his deputyMalaysia’s Prime Minister and His Deputy. Muhiyuddin Yassin

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia played an unusual personal role, holding a series of cellphone conversations with a rebel leader and then coaching a Malaysian colonel on what to say as he passed through nearly a dozen rebel checkpoints on his way to the crash scene, according to a person who was with the prime minister much of the time.

Mr. Najib’s success has at least temporarily restored his standing at home, where his government was battered by accusations of incompetence following the disappearance in March of another Malaysia Airlines jet, Flight MH 370. The arrival of most of the bodies and the flight data recorders from Flight MH 17 at a Ukrainian military base on Tuesday brought an outpouring of relief and praise in Malaysia.

But Mr. Najib’s willingness to negotiate directly with Alexander Borodai, the rebel leader, has prompted disquiet outside the country about whether the prime minister had lent unwarranted legitimacy to a man the Ukrainian government has condemned as a terrorist.

Malaysian officials say Mr. Najib established a rapport with Mr. Borodai over the weekend, and finally reached an agreement with him on Monday for handing over the remains and the recorders, which the rebels had taken from the crash site, in territory they control near the Russian border. The plane, a Boeing 777-200 with 298 aboard, was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was struck by an antiaircraft missile on July 17.

Opposition politicians in Malaysia who had excoriated Mr. Najib through the spring over Flight MH 370 endorsed his actions on Wednesday at a special session of Parliament and in a series of earlier statements. A senior opposition politician, Lim Kit Siang, wrote on his blog that the prime minister “is to be commended for the breakthrough with the handover of the two black boxes.” And Lim Guan Eng, the Secretary-Ggeneral of the Democratic Action Party, a major opposition bloc, said that his party was “willing to stand together with the federal government to support their efforts to bring back the bodies to their families.”

Officials in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, insisted that Mr. Najib’s arrangement with Mr. Borodai did not involve any promise of formal diplomatic recognition or payment to the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Political analysts said that Mr. Najib’s domestic political bonanza depended partly on that remaining true.

“If it emerges that there are issues behind this deal, then things will be seen in a slightly different way,” said Bridget Welsh, a senior Research Associate at National Taiwan University who specializes in Malaysian politics.

The Malaysian delegation in Ukraine incurred the anger of many Ukrainians by using the honorific “excellency” in referring to Mr. Borodai, who styles himself the leader of a breakaway republic. But, at least in public, Mr. Najib has not used the term, referring to the rebel leader only as “Mr. Borodai.”

Few Malaysians have followed the Ukrainian conflict in detail, so the question of legitimizing Mr. Borodai, who is a Russian citizen, has barely been raised here. The overwhelming priority has been recovering the bodies of the 43 Malaysians who were on Flight MH17, including two infants — an especially sensitive matter in a mainly Muslim country where prompt and proper burial of the dead is a strong religious imperative.

“Over here, people don’t care how the deal was done,” said James Chin, a Professor of Political Science at the Kuala Lumpur campus of Monash University. “All they care is that the bodies are coming back, so that the families have closure.”

But, Mr. Chin said, Mr. Najib’s political boost might not last long. When he announced the deal earlyTuesday morning, Mr. Najib predicted that the bodies of Malaysians would be in their families’ hands by the end of Ramadan, which in Malaysia will be Sunday. But Dutch and Australian officials now say that it could take weeks or months to identify the remains, which are first being flown to a laboratory in the Netherlands.

MH17 Crash Site2

“Now he’s smelling like roses, but I suspect it’ll end in tears,” Mr. Chin said of Mr. Najib.The Prime Minister sharpened his criticism of the initial difficulties in recovering the bodies and data recorders in a speech to Parliament on Wednesday, but he continued to refrain from assigning blame for the downing of the aircraft.

For Mr. Najib, the loss of a second Malaysia Airlines jet in less than five months is an ordeal that began when he received a call at his Kuala Lumpur home late last Thursday telling him that Flight MH 17 had disappeared from radar. The person who was with him for much of that night, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a ban on commenting publicly about the Prime Minister’s private activities, said that Mr. Najib immediately summoned officials to meet him at an emergency response center at the capital’s airport.

Airport guards outside the response center were not prepared for the appearance of the prime minister’s motorcade, with its escort of armed guards on motorcycles, and initially refused to let it pass, while they tried to check with superiors by telephone, the person said. The prime minister’s security detail cut the wait short by bodily lifting the guards and carrying them to the side of the road, and then pushing up the heavy gate blocking the entrance road.

Mr. Najib was given Mr. Borodai’s cellphone number by someone whom Mr. Borodai trusted and who vouched for Mr. Najib, according to Malaysian officials. They declined to say whether the intermediary who set up the initial call was Russian.

Malaysia has long sought to avoid conspicuously taking sides in the rivalries among the United States, Russia and China, and many of its citizens are wary of American influence. While the Netherlands is a member of NATO, which many pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine see as a threat, Malaysia is a distant Southeast Asian nation that has stayed largely silent on the turmoil there.

Russia has invested years of effort in building up its relations with Malaysia, in which aviation has played a major role for more than a decade. Malaysia agreed to buy 18 Sukhoi fighter jets from Russia in May 2003, in a deal worth nearly $1 billion. In exchange, Russia agreed to train and transport to space Malaysia’s first astronaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, an orthopedic surgeon by profession who traveled to the International Space Station in 2007 and became a celebrated national hero, not least because he observed the Ramadan fasts in space under the guidance of a large team of religious experts.

At a meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin in Vladivostok in 2012, Mr. Najib noted that he personally oversaw the deal for the Sukhoi jets, and added, “The time has come for us to broaden the relationship and to look into new areas of cooperative relationship with you.” The deal to recover the recorders and remains from Flight MH 17 may be the richest political dividend Mr. Najib has yet reaped from that relationship.

Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley reported from Kuala Lumpur, and David M. Herszenhorn from Kiev, Ukraine