Whitewashing Najib’s image won’t do


July 2, 2015

Whitewashing Najib’s image won’t do

by Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

lim-kok-wing-najib-mahathir

COMMENT: I scoured through the media to see how a public relations mogul has been able to salvage Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s reputation.

First, allow me to qualify myself. I am from a public relations (PR) background and has also been a writer all my life; hence, it naturally interests me when there is something I can learn from a PR practitioner although in my opinion, there are many more qualified PR practitioners in the country than Lim Kok Wing himself.

Lim is more of an advertising man than a PR practitioner; therefore, it is not surprising to see the quality of work produced is below par excellence. This is my personal opinion and I will explain why I am saying this.

In the last one month or so, there has been no significant change in the people’s perception of Najib. If anything, it has only gone from bad to worse. People are in fact gravitating towards former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Crown Prince of Johor (TMJ) Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim for what they have to say. Najib might as well review his contract with Lim, to see if he is getting his money’s worth.

Little done so far

Let me elaborate. Lim said that he was not involved with the Nothing2Hide seminar. However, after the incident, little damage control was done to salvage Najib’s reputation. The fact that Najib did not turn up for the event was already seen as ‘chickening’ out, especially when he  learned that his ally-turned-nemesis Dr Mahathir was there at the event.

To make matters worse, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar took it upon himself to advise Najib not to attend the meeting. Using the safety of the Prime Minister is not an excuse, especially in a country which is supposed to enjoy peace and harmony. On record, no one has threatened Najib’s life and certainly not the people who attended the meeting.

Questions have been raised why Najib did not take the bold step like Julius Caesar and attend the meeting, despite the IGP’s advice? He could have at least worn a bulletproof vest to protect himself, and all exits into the hall cordoned off by the police the moment Najib went into the meeting.

I am a little surprised that Lim, in his capacity as Najib’s PR consultant, has done nothing to advise his client on how to salvage his reputation; instead, Lim merely came forward to say that he was not involved in the Nothing2Hide event.

TM Tunku Ismail of JohorEven the TMJ saw it fit to hit out at Najib for his lack of courage to face the nonagenarian. If that’s the case, what has Lim done so far to advise Najib? At the very least, Najib should come out in an open debate with Dr Mahathir, because this is what the people are waiting to see.

A debate is not going to tear the country apart, but it will bring out the best of arguments from both sides so that the people can decide whether to believe Najib’s story or continue to give further credence to Dr Mahathir.

Fast forward, in the last few days, there were articles quoting 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Najib that appear to be written by a different group of people. 1MDB said its RM20 million given as corporate social responsibility to a mosque in Kampung Baru is acceptable. We are not interested in how much 1MDB can give to even a church or a temple, but why was the donation announced by Najib if he is merely an adviser to the board?

At the time of writing, Malaysiakini highlighted that Malaysia’s outlook revision by Fitch from negative to stable “is a reflection of the government’s financial management capabilities”. Will anyone believe Najib, especially when the rating agency said that Malaysia’s fiscal position is still weak and the ringgit has taken a beating against the greenback?

Please step down

Quit Najib2
So far, Najib is the only one who say that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and fuel subsidy cuts are supportive of the fiscal finances. On the ground, the people are whining and groaning, while the market is slowing down, and everyone is talking about removing Najib as Prime Minister.

One contractor I spoke to yesterday fact said that he wants to see Najib stepping down soon, as he sees the country going to the dogs. An economics professor that I spoke to feel that the country is losing its sense of direction and he calls Dr Mahathir the “official Mr Opposition.”

Walking past two gentlemen having breakfast, the conversation is also focused on businesses now investing overseas instead. The outward bound foreign direct investment has in fact risen over the years. Businessmen will put their money where there are better returns for their investments.

In fact, I was told that since 1994, the country’s purchasing power parity (PPP) has only improved by several percent compared to the PPP in the US within the past two decades. The same is happening in Thailand. We are caught in a middle-income trap and appear to be going nowhere.

While foreign investors are moving to countries with low wages, and domestic investors are also looking for greener pastures abroad, there is not enough effort made to stimulate the country’s economic growth.

Next, we look at the Malaysian side of the story about the arrest of Xavier Justo. According to the Thai authorities, he was arrested because he had allegedly blackmailed PetroSaudi Investment (PSI). However, Home Minister Zahid Hamidi and others have been singing a different tune, saying that Justo had tampered the emails provided to the Sarawak Report.

Is this again the advice from a PR consultant? Or perhaps, it is because Lim’s influence does  not cover the extent in which other cabinet ministers act? I am wondering!

My question is simple: Even if Justo had tampered the emails, how does it affect the questions people are still asking: Where is the RM42 billion? Most people agree with Dr Mahathir that unless 1MDB can show us the money NOW (not six months later), there is a credibility issue with all the parties involved in the entire fiasco.

Another piece of work which appears to come from the PR consultants is Najib’s soft side, wanting to make sure that former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s health condition be given top priority.

In the first place, who was the one who pushed the Sodomy II case all the way to the Federal Court after the Kuala Lumpur High Court had acquitted Anwar of any wrongdoing? If Najib cares to look back, his own popularity took a dip after Anwar was thrown into prison.

My constructive criticism to Najib is that he should at least step down. There is more harm being done to the fragility of our current economic condition than good by him trying to cling on to power for the next 18 months.

Cue already given

Even US President Barack Obama hinted this in a recent response to Malaysian elected representative Yeo Bee Yin who raised the question. The cue has been given, but neither Najib nor his PR consultant have  picked this up.

I wish to sound out what the TMJ had said, because in principle, his observation applies universally: “A cowardly leader is the most dangerous of men and that one of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency.”

TMJ went on to hint that “inventories can be managed, but the people must be led by example and with integrity. Remember that the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”

Using the long arm of the law to clamp down on the opposition would only make the survival of Barisan Nasional and UMNO even tougher. As it is, people view Najib’s administration as flexing too much power against the voices of dissent, while not dealing with the core issues such as corruption.

Paul LowPaul Low–A Failed Minister

If anything, the PR mogul should deal with this major ‘gangrene’ first, and make the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) go after the big fish. Sadly, this is also where former Transparency International Malaysia president, Paul Low has failed miserably since joining Najib’s cabinet as Minister in charge of governance and integrity. Unless Najib steps up his ante against corruption, Low’s efforts will only be seen as apple polishing the people in the corridors of power.

No amount of force would change people’s perception at this juncture in Malaysian history. Najib has to just look at the arrogance of PAS President Hadi Awang and what this has done to the Islamist party! Overnight, PAS can be dumped by the people who support Pakatan Rakyat.

There are enough lessons to be learned, but has Najib even bothered to listen to the whispers of the wind? Or, does Najib have to hire more PR moguls to join his war room?

The only sensible thing for Najib to do is to step down at a time when the people have lost confidence in him, except a minority of UMNO warlords who are benefiting from the gravy train. This would give BN a better chances of survival in the future ahead, as the rakyat would not like to see a weak opposition, once the new coalition takes over Putrajaya.

Sixty years in power is long enough for BN. When it is time to go, be gracious and give way to the younger generation of leaders such as Rafizi Ramli and Tony Pua  to spearhead Malaysia’s economic growth.

Train up the younger leaders who are clean to take over the helm of BN, to serve the people instead of being involved in dirty politics. Perhaps, the people will someday give BN a new mandate but for now, the sinking ship has to go before a new ship can be commissioned.

We are a nation in birth pangs. Malaysia, like Indonesia, is longing to see a Jokowi type of leader, no longer the Suharto type. And sultans in the likes of TMJ! I am sure if the TMJ is criticised by even this humble servant, the TMJ would not be using force, but his brainpower to win the respect of the people and show why what he does is indeed good for the people.

Getting our Politics Right Again with Leadership Change


June 19, 2015

Getting our Politics Right Again with Leadership Change

by *P. Gunasegaram

*P GUNASEGARAM is founding editor of KINIBIZ which produces an online business news portal and a fortnightly print magazine.

QUESTION TIME: 1MDB’s impact on the financial markets is more than just worry about whether potential defaults will impact the banking system and whether the government’s finances will be adversely affected when it stands by to honour 1MDB’s many obligations.

These questions have been largely answered – the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, has already said that 1MDB does not pose a systemic risk to the domestic banking sector, although it may depress the profits of some banks.

Various analysts believe that the federal government, which owns all of 1MDB through Minister of Finance Inc, has the capacity to take care of 1MDB’s obligations, which amount to RM42 billion.

So why is the ringgit more depressed than it should be and what is really the concern about the situation in the country? The problem is not directly related to the economy but politics. An increasing number of people are considering how the overall political situation in the country will change if Najib Abdul Razak, for whatever reason, decides to step down.

It is more than likely that it is the political situation which is causing the ringgit to be even more volatile than the currencies of other countries that have yo-yoed against the US dollar, but generally trended downwards against the greenback. That the US dollar is strengthening is indisputable, the roots being the strong possibility of upward increases in US interest rates some time later this year.

The pressure on Najib increased when former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Bin Mohamad stepped into the fray over the 1MDB issue, accusing the self-styled strategic development company of not being able to account properly for its debts of RM42 billion. Now, that’s something that lots of others agree with.

However, Mahathir’s premise for his interference has not always been from the perspective of high moral values – he often repeats that the reason why Najib has to go is that if he stays on he may well lead UMNO and Barisan Nasional into defeat in the next general elections. The elections have to be held on or before 2018, still some three years away.

Najib has maintained, without offering much by way of evidence, that 1MDB is in good shape and that all monies are intact and can be accounted for. This runs counter to the many reports written on 1MDB and its various shenanigans, which includes pieces written by both KINIBIZ online and KINIBIZ magazine.

In fact KINIBIZ online was the first anywhere to write an extensive series of reports on 1MDB outlining its various mistakes, including underpricing bonds, overpaying for assets, paying too much to Goldman Sachs, dubious investments, suspicious money trails, influence from outside parties and so on.

Position full of holes

All analyses indicate that Najib’s position with respect to 1MDB – that basically the company is okay and only needs time to put its affairs in order – is full of holes and does not hold water. There is much that 1MDB has not given satisfactory answers to and it looks like for many questions, there will be no good replies.

The billion ringgit questions then are, will Najib step down? And if he does, who will take over from him?

Najib will not take on Mahathir directly – he pointedly avoided one confrontation at the so-called ‘Nothing2Hide’ forum. But behind the scenes he would be quietly accumulating support from his loyalists.

His Deputy and UMNO Deputy President Muhyiddin Yassin is already testing the waters. In a leaked video of a meeting, he made some strong remarks against 1MDB, which some take to mean that he is ready to step into Najib’s shoes.

Meantime, rumours of a cabinet reshuffle swirl and there is speculation that Najib’s alternative choice, if he should decide to leave, might be Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, with Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein as Deputy.

If that is being passed around by Najib’s camp it may be a signal to Muhyiddin to watch his step, for the power of incumbency in UMNO cannot be denied. Jumping ship too early might result in a step into the  deep ocean.

It is very difficult to mount a challenge against an incumbent president who holds wide powers. Just to contest, a challenger has to get nominations from 30 percent of the branches. Considering that the President will have considerable influence over branch officials, that is very unlikely to happen in the current scenario.

Many like to say that former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was forced out from his position, mainly by Mahathir. That’s probably not true. Abdullah made no attempt to cling to power but was likely ready to step down from the rigours of political office of his own free will.

Najib will not leave so easily. If he is going to leave, then a deal has to be struck – that’s always been the UMNO way. There will be some face-saving, and there will be assurances that he himself will be immune from any kind of prosecution over 1MDB or any other matters.

One possible deal could be that he stays but when the next elections are within sight he will make way for the next person to take over the mantle. Whether that will be Muhyiddin or someone else is not clear at this point of time. But any UMNO politician who makes too quick a move against Najib is likely to pay for his recklessness.

If Najib gets no such assurance, then he has no choice but to fight tooth and nail to keep his position, for to give it up may well mean opening himself up to further action against him in future.

Nearly impossible to mount a challenge

Najib is not likely to be removed against his will. Ironically this is because of all the measures that Mahathir put in place to make it nearly impossible to mount a challenge against the incumbent President in the wake of the bruising challenge against him in 1987 by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and  Tun Musa Hitam.

It’s an irony, too, that the votes of Najib’s supporters, who firmly swung to Mahathir in the last leg of the Razaleigh/Musa campaign against Mahathir, probably contributed to Mahathir’s narrow win in 1987 and that they now stand on opposite sides of the divide.

But despite all of Mahathir’s fighting qualities, it looks like the only way Najib will leave is if a deal is made. Mahathir himself has ensured that by the changes to UMNO’s voting rules.

Meantime, the political uncertainty will add to the woes of the country, contributing to currency volatility and confidence erosion.–http://www.malaysiakini.com

Only just tell the truth, says Ambiga to Najib


May 22, 2015

Only just tell the truth, says Ambiga to Najib

by Hafiz Yatim@www.malaysiakini.com

pinnochioThe New UMNO-BN mascot for GE-14

Former Bar Council chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan has advised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak not to not depend totally on paid advisers to improve his image.

In mocking Najib, Ambiga, also a former Bersih 2.0 chairperson, tweeted that she was givingambiga the Prime Minister advice free of charge, and that is, for him to tell the truth. She made the comment in response to a news report in The Malaysian Insider today that advertising and public relations guru Lim Kok Wing has been appointed Najib’s special programme coordinator.

Lim is no stranger to public relations, having established the nation’s first private advertising company and the first creative arts university, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

He has also helped negotiate several explosive problems, including the MCA internal war between then President Dr Ling Liong Sik and Lim Ah Lek.

He was also one of the pioneers to help the African National Congress in its first election The Besieged Malaysia Emperorcampaign for a free South Africa, helping Nelson Mandela to win the election. Lim ran the advertising campaign with video clips and banners depicting Mandela with children of various races, thereby creating a wide appeal among the international community – which also stamped the ANC leader as the viable face of South Africa.

The Limkokwing University of Creative Technology at present has campuses in London, Botswana and Cambodia plus Cyberjaya and Kuching in Malaysia.

Felda students too

Under Lim’s stewardship, the university began accepting students from Felda settlements to do their diploma programme under Felda scholarships. Previously, Lim had also advised former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and helped UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar in his election campaign  for the Rembau constituency during the 2008 general election.

Previously, it was reported that the government had denied paying ex-Apco Malaysia boss Paul Stadlen (photo) for his services, which allegedly includes managing Najib’s media relations operations.

“Up to now, the government did not provide any remuneration to Paul Stadlen,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Shahidan Kassim said in a written parliamentary reply to Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (PAS-Sepang).

Besides Lim, it has also been reported that Najib has four official advisors namely UKM academic Prof Dr Abdullah Mohd Zin, Kubang Pasu MP Johari Baharum, and former cabinet ministers Rais Yatim and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.

Perdana 1: Silence is not an Option for Najib


January 5, 2015

Perdana 1: Silence is not an Option for Najib

by Scott Ng@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

The funny thing about rumours is that you can never really choose to ignore them. But then, if you say too much, people will assume that you are acting in self preservation because there is truth to the talk. Say too little, and you add to the intrigue. Say nothing at all, and a piece of gossip takes a life of its own, ever growing in intricacy and complexity till little of the original remains.

najib-rosmah3001Rosmah–Najib’s worst nightmare?

Considering the options on the table, you’d think that addressing the situation makes the most sense for the parties involved, in this case, Prime Minister Najib Razak and the elusive Perdana 1, which currently awaits the Prime Minister in Thailand after a week-long jaunt in the United States, stopping in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Los Angeles again and then New York en route to London, Dubai and back to South East Asia.

The fact that the aircraft remained in the US while the Prime Minister rushed home to deal with the flood crisis has intrigued many commenters and critics across the social sphere, with many coming to the conclusion that it must be the First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM), Rosmah Mansor, who is aboard the flight, probably indulging her allegedly infamous penchant for extravagant shopping and travel.

The Prime Minister’s Office has tried to pass it off as a maintenance issue, but as a piece carried by FMT on Saturday suggests, there was only one possible reason for Perdana 1 to be in Indianapolis, and for a week at that, raising even more concerns over the use of the jet, and more important, the doings of its possible passenger.

Najib should have just come out and addressed the rumours before they became such a source of national concern. Had he said, yes, it is Rosmah on board, he would have caught flak for it, but no more than he already has, as many Malaysians have already made up their minds about FLOM’s temperament and passions. Instead, his elegant silence has dealt a far worse blow to his and his wife’s reputation, at a time when he actually has made a public relations score with his efforts to address the floods. Had he clearly told Malaysians that the jet had issues, and the reason why it was in Indianapolis for so long, his honesty would have at least been appreciated by Malaysians whose tax dollars pay RM27,501.75 per hour for use of the jet.

Tony Fernandes: A True Crisis Manager and Role Model

Compare this to the way AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes has been dealing with the biggest crisis facing his airline yet. The ill-fated QZ8501 would have devastated AirAsia had Fernandes dealt with the situation the way that our Prime Minister has with Perdana 1. Had he been as opaque over the issue, critics would have lambasted him for having no sympathy for his employees and the passengers onboard the flight, but what Fernandes has done is give the world a master class in crisis management.

Tony and JokowiPresident Jokowi and AirAsia’s Tony

He has gone to the ground, given comfort to the staff of AirAsia, personally accompanied the body of a stewardess back to her home, communicated constantly with the public and media, and his efforts have been rewarded with a positive afterglow on the airline despite the disaster. His constant updates have left little room for rumour, little space for unbridled speculation.

It is this openness that has given Fernandes some leeway as the airline recovers from the disaster, and our Prime Minister would serve himself well to learn from what the AirAsia Group CEO has done over the past week.

Due to Najib’s refusal to address the status of Perdana 1, he has given way for gossip to hit him and his wife much harder than anything he could have possibly confessed to, even a shopping spree that spanned the breadth of America, from Los Angeles on the West Coast to New York on the East Coast.

Obviously, the magnitude of the loss of QZ8501 cannot be compared to the extravagance Perdana 1 has been associated with, but the two leaders dealing with crisis and controversy have chosen to deal with their situations in mirror-opposite ways. Najib must learn from his mistakes and stop the cycle of PR disasters marking his tenure as Prime Minister of Malaysia.

 

Floods: The Watershed for Change in Malaysia?


January 2, 2015

Floods: The Watershed for Change in Malaysia?

by A Kadir Jasin

http://kadirjasin.blogspot.com/2015/01/banjir-is-watershed-for-change.html

AK JasinDEBATER Ismail Muda had the following to say – “Dari sudut politik, kita amat berharap akan muncul pemimpin baru yg lebih berwawasan berkaliber dan penuh tanggongjwab membetulkan segala kepesongan.”

Translated, it says, from the political angle, we are very hopeful that a new leader with calibre, vision and sense of responsibility will emerge to put right all the wrong.

I am afraid his statement typifies the dissatisfaction of many Malaysians with the leadership of Prime Minister, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak and his merry men and women – not all but many.

The “banjir besar” (big floods) could have been the ultimate opportunity for them to rise to the challenge and prove to the people far and wide that they are concerned and capable.

Instead the Prime Minister himself had chosen to put his so-called “golf diplomacy” with US President Barrack Obama ahead of the flood victims and played hide and seek with the rakyat on the whereabouts of the government jet he used to travel to Hawaii and also the whereabouts of his wife, Rosmah Mansor.

Najib and Rosmah

On the positive side, despite the extent of the floods the lost of lives had been minimal. More people died in a New Year stampede in China! Still the lost of properties, sources of income and economic opportunities are significant and will take time to recover.

The Malays have a saying that “sekali air bah, sekali pasir berubah.” It means, each time it floods the sandbank would move. If that saying holds true, I believe the wave of change will only get stronger. UMNO has to do something about its President and Prime Minister if it wants to stop the situation from getting worse. Like the sandbank, it could be swept away the next general elections.

The big floods may be the watershed that we are hoping for. They may spell the beginning of the end of a mediocre leadership. That old Malay wisdom about the banjir and the pasir could very well have a literal meaning for Mohd Najib.

The Beginning of the End?

Mahathir-Vs-NajibIt is a watershed and an ominous one when the rakyat, through the blogs, the independent news portal and the social media outlets, discovered that the PM was golfing in Hawaii while a quarter million people were flooded out of their homes, they asked, does the PM care?

No amount of explanations and attempts to gloss over the Hawaiian misstep by his propaganda machines will restore the Prime Minister’s image as a caring leader. His “rakyat didahulukan” (people first) slogan is a sham.

His RM500-million allocation and the speeding up of 1Malaysia People Assistance (BR1M) may help to mend fences with the rural poor but is unlikely to appease his critics and detractors.

His psychological warfare onslaught is farcical. For instance, in calling for his ministers, who were also holidaying abroad, to come home, the Prime Minister was proving the social media right that some members of his cabinet were more concerned with their holidays than the well-being of the people who elected them.

In seeking to placate the people, the PM is clearly being poorly advised his psychological warfare specialists, of whom we know there are many. The instruction to his holidaying ministers to come home should not have been made public. It makes it to sounds like “bapa borek anak rintik” – like father like son.

For UMNO and the Barisan Nasional, a change has to happen. If it does not happen, the situation can only get worse and the grand old coalition may finally succumb to old age. Like the Romans who had to choose between Caesar and Rome, the time has come for UMNO and BN to choose between Mohd Najib and Putrajaya.

The Buck Stops with the PM

An aerial view of flooded streets of the National Park in Kuala Tahan, PahangNO matter how we look at the handling of the big floods in particular and the administration of the country in general, we have to be very clear that the buck stops with the Prime Minister.

We cannot hope to have a motivated, committed and transparent civil service, the Police, the Military and, above all, the populace if the man at the top does not display the same motivation, commitment and transparency.

Can the “golf diplomacy” not wait? Would Obama be fuming mad if Mohd Najib told him that he could not come because his country is suffering big floods?

Manek_Urai_floods_Bomba_251214How many more disasters and tragedies do we need before we dare judge our government, our leaders and our Prime Minister and say, enough is enough? Just ask ourselves do we still believe in “Malaysia Boleh”? Does people first, performance now slogan has any meaning?

By the look of things, the future does not hold great promise for the rakyat jelata (the populace) if this situation continues. And unless UMNO and the BN have lost all sensibilities and bearings, they would by now know that the future does not hold a great promise for them either.

They can pretend and continue to be in a state of denial, but the record of the last few years does not speak well of their performance and their endearment with the rakyat.

The Heavy Price of Denial

najib-1malaysia

I am sorry to have to say this. UMNO and BN can keep the PM and pretend that everything in fine, but they must accept the fact that the risk of them being thrown out by voters in the next GE is immense.

The Pakatan Rakyat parties do not have to do much. They just need to keep their internal differences in check and stop washing dirty linen in public. If they stop bickering about ideologies and stop being egotistical maniacs, they stand a good chance of keeping their 52% popular votes and probably get more in the coming polls.

Anwar-UbahHudud will likely undo the PR Coalition

In simple language, all that the PR has to do is keep its nose clean and hope that no positive changes happen in the leadership of the BN and the government. Do not underestimate the voters’ desire for change. The tumbling support for the BN since the 2008 GE suggests that this trend is gaining momentum.

BN should realise that it has not only lost the popular votes but also the battle of words. Its propaganda machines have lost the war with the social media.

Also, the PR has many more younger and smarter leaders than the ageing BN parties. Can we name more future UMNO-BN leaders other than Youth Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr. Wee Ka Siong?

Do not forget that the young people who are joining the rank electorates are the prime movers of social media and the BN is a poor second in the use of this new communication tool. For UMNO, do not forget that the most numbers of unregistered voters are Malays and UMNO is trailing the DAP in enticing young people to register as voters.

Ibrahim-ali and MahathirThe era of strong leaders like (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad and late (Tun) Abdul Razak Hussein is over for UMNO. The survival of the party, for now, appears to rest on collective leadership, which Mohd Najib has failed to put together.

This is because, from the start, he fashioned himself as a president not a prime minister. He does things not in consultation with the party and the civil service. Instead he surrounds himself with presidential-type councils, committees, advisors, consultants and special officers many of whom are not government servants but have access to confidential materials and state secrets.

And may be Mohd Najib’s earliest mentor (at PETRONAS), the Gua Musang MPTengku Razaleigh Hamzah Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, is entirely correct, when he said Malaysia may be heading into 2015 but we have deviated from the path of progress, and instead progress has been set back several decades.

In his New Year message, the former Finance Minister said, 2014 had been a “horrible year” but the future does not look bright particularly because of worsening racial and religious politics.

Question and Answer with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Kelantan


December 28, 2014

Question and Answer with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in Kelantan

NAJIB / BANJIRPM Najib with Dato’ Seri Mustapha Mohamed

http://www.nst.com.my/node/66520

Excerpt of Q&A with Dato’ Seri Najib Razak at the press conference during his visit to Kelantan yesterday (December 27, 2014).

Question (Q): Why is a state of emergency not declared for the floods?

Prime Minister: There are many implications. Firstly, if we declare, insurance companies will be exempted from paying compensation for damages to properties and vehicles. When we declare (emergency), it means a “forced measure” category that insurance companies need not make settlements. Secondly, we are already moving within an emergency situation now as government machinery has been directed to perform at its maximum level.

Q: Will BR1M be paid in three stages?

PM: BR1M will still be in three stages but the (first) payment will be speeded up to the middle of January.

Q: Any help from outside?

PM: So far we have received none and we can manage this on our own.

Q: Has the government made any assessment of the damages caused by the flood?

PM: We have not done it as the flood is still here. If we make an estimation now, the damages will not be the overall value as we do not know how long more the flood will last.

Q: When will the RM500 million be disbursed to flood victims?

PM: Next year when the flood is over and the victims have returned home. They certainly need a sizable budget and that is why we will distribute the funds.

Q: How do we assist flood victims when the situation is very bad?

PM: We have decided that the committee which is chaired by Dato’ Seri Mustapa Mohamed will ascertain where there is a landing point, we will send help using helicopters. The Armed Forces have been carrying out such operations. Additional food supplies, seven days worth, are being flown via Charlie (transport aircraft) which is carrying out five, six sorties now.

Q: Could you tell us about your visit to meet US President Barack Obama?

PM: Actually, when President Barack Obama visited Malaysia, he had mentioned to me that if I was in Hawaii while he was there, he wanted me to play golf with him.

Golf Diplomacy

Playing golf is not something which is strange or out of the ordinary because from the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Dr Ismail, playing golf with other world leaders is something that can be called golf diplomacy.

I played golf to build relationship with world leaders to benefit the country. It doesn’t mean we agree to everything, but only on things that benefit Malaysia. Such social ties will benefit Malaysia. I made the decision to do that (play golf) as I was invited by him (Obama) and it was difficult for me not to do so as it had been planned earlier. However, every day when I was overseas, I received latest updates on the flood situation.