Robert Kuok, Fake News,Najib Razak, and UMNO Politics

March 1, 2018

Robert Kuok, Fake News,Najib Razak, and UMNO Politics

by P

Image result for Najib Razak criticises Robert Kuok
A Towering Malaysian and Patriot, Tan Sri Robert Kuok


QUESTION TIME | The ongoing brouhaha over Robert Kuok and his alleged donations to DAP and funding of The Malaysian Insight, both of which he strongly denied, and the subsequent outrage among some UMNO members offers some interesting insights into fake news and how it is used in UMNO politics.


It reflects also that nothing has changed from the establishment view that government contracts are theirs to give whichever way they want and those who get them are to be eternally grateful to the government, the same way the government tells civil servants they should be grateful for what they are getting in salaries and pensions.

First, what was reported by a discredited blogger, Raja Petra Kamarudin, was taken to be the truth (when it could well have been fake news) by UMNO leaders who appeared to follow the cue from Prime Minister and UMNO President Najib Razak that seemed to indicate that Kuok was fodder for electioneering.

Raja Petra, in a tale of conspiracy and intrigue, written only the way he can with truth, conjecture and unnamed sources for very serious allegations mixed in a heady concoction, spins a tall story of which the main allegation is that Kuok sought to overthrow Umno by splitting up the Malays and supporting opposition parties, including funding them and financing news portals opposed to the government.


The following gives a flavour of what his main contentions are:

“But playing the Chinese market alone is not enough. If it was then UMNO and Barisan Nasional would already have been toppled back in 2008 or 2013. It required more than just 85% or 90% Chinese votes. It also needed for the Malays to be split into four or five opposing groups. And this was what DAP had been doing since soon after the 2013 general election: dividing the Malays into UMNO, PAS, PKR, PPBM and Parti Amanah Nasional (PAN). And to achieve that it required tons of money, which Robert Kuok was able to provide.

“Crucial to this game was to dominate the social media. Online portals such as The Malaysian Insight and a team of a few thousand cyber-troopers such as DAP’s Red Bean Army would be needed for this. And this, yet again, would need tens of millions, which is mere dedak (or animal feed) for a billionaire such as Robert Kuok.

“So Robert Kuok asked Lim Kit Siang and his son, Guan Eng, who were very close to Jahabar Sadiq (who runs Malaysian Insight), to discuss The Malaysian Insight’s financial needs and how they could come in to provide the RM50 million that The Malaysian Insight needs.

“Ho Kay Tat (CEO of the Edge) would also be appointed the de facto editor-in-chief to coordinate the operations from behind the scenes while making sure that the Malay ‘face’ of The Malaysian Insight is not compromised while the owners of the portal would be paid RM2 million a month to ‘play ball’ and offer the portal immunity from any government clampdown.”

Unjustified criticism

What a fantastic story, and this some UMNO politicians believe to be true! But this may go back to Kuok’s book. Kuok had written a memoir released late last year that had criticised cronyism in Malaysia which is likely to have offended many within UMNO.

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 The most talked about blockbuster Robert Kuok Memoir in Malaysia

Later, after Raja Petra’s article, Najib took it upon himself to criticise Kuok: “If we look at the list of names of the richest people in Malaysia, such as Robert Kuok, who gave him the key to have a monopoly on rice and sugar? It was given to him by the ruling government.”

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Prime Minister Najib Razak, Dispenser in Chief of Malaysian Fake News seen his First Lady Rosmah Mansor. He is playing dangerous Malay politics, and creating tensions with his own UMNO-BN Cabinet over Billionaire  and Philanthropist Robert Kuok

It was almost as if Najib was endorsing what Raja Petra was saying and given the state of shadow politics in Umno, Kuok became a target for those Umno leaders aspiring for bigger leadership roles.

A tirade of unjustified criticism against Kuok followed, of which the worse by far was from Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz with no thought of whether Raja Petra’s free-wheeling and unproven allegations were true or not. Umno officials did not care for the accuracy of the news but used it to whack away at Kuok.

Nazri’s attack was personal and insulting: “Don’t be a ‘pondan’ (effeminate). Don’t be a hen (ayam betina) which hides behind the wall in Hong Kong.” And inflammatory: “Kuok, we will fight you. Don’t think you are rich. If you consider yourself rich, then join politics. Don’t be a coward and hide (overseas), just to fund DAP in order for BN to collapse. BN accepts your challenge.” There were similar criticisms by other UMNO leaders.

Even as Kuok issued a statement denying Raja Petra’s allegations and threatening legal action, Chinese Malaysian leaders and others rose to Kuok’s defence, with even the MCA calling on UMNO to call off attacks on Kuok.

Najib’s office then issued a statement that appeared to be conciliatory, saying that the PM welcomed tycoon Robert Kuok’s “deep appreciation” of the opportunities afforded to him.

A dangerous game

UMNO was playing a very dangerous game here. While they were using the age-old game of stoking racial tensions to gain Malay support, such tactics could alienate further the already alienated Chinese voters. Perhaps the UMNO strategy could be to go for Malay votes given that Chinese votes are likely to be mainly against UMNO and BN anyway.

There is no denying, however, that many in UMNO were upset with Kuok’s controversial book which had a lot to say about corruption and racial politics. An example: “The riots of 13 May 1969 were a great shock to the system, but not a surprise. Extremist Malays attributed the poverty of many Malays to the plundering Chinese and Indians. Leaders like Tunku Abdul Rahman, who could see both sides, were no longer able to hold back the hotheads.

“The more thoughtful leaders were shunted and extremists hijacked power. They chanted the same slogans as the hotheads – the Malays are underprivileged; the Malays are bullied – while themselves seeking to become super-rich. When these Malays become rich, not many of them did anything for the poor Malays; the Chinese and Indians who became rich created jobs, many of them filled by Malays.”


That’s a strong indictment against patronage politics which saw many Malays who espoused Malay rights becoming super-rich through rent-seeking activities with no real contribution to the economy and job creation. That surely would have rankled UMNO politicians, some of whom would have been described to a tee in the book.

The whole episode is clear illustration of how UMNO uses fake and uncorroborated news to discredit those who it considers its enemies in a highly orchestrated manner. That just goes to strengthen the belief that new laws against fake news will be selectively applied to its detractors the same way sedition, security, secrets and corruption laws have been in the past.

It also goes to show that UMNO is still very much in the mould of playing base racial politics to stoke hatred against other races even if that should hurt other members in its coalition. The sequence of events shows a reconciliatory stance towards the end but the damage has been done.

Finally, there is the paternalistic attitude that as the government it holds the absolute right to distribute the largesse of the country and award contracts any which way it wants. In a responsible democracy however, national assets are held in trust by the government for the people to be handled carefully at all times with maximum benefit to the nation and its people. Contracts, for instance, should be awarded only after open tenders and careful evaluation of costs and benefits, and the capability and capacity of those involved to deliver it instead of awarding it to mere commission agents of third parties.

UMNO has a long way to go as this needless tirade against Kuok indicates.

P GUNASEGARAM likes this wise Malay saying: ‘Siapa yang makan cili, dia terasa pedas.’ E-mail:

UMNO Warlords take on Robert Kuok, China’s Most Trust Malaysian Adviser

February 28, 2018

UMNO Warlords take on Robert Kuok, China’s Most Trust Malaysian Adviser

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Billionaire Robert Kuok and CIMB Group  Chairman Dato Seri Nazir Razak

Malaysia’s richest man Robert Kuok, who lives in Hong Kong, is currently under attack by not only half-past-six UMNO-Malay warlords but also from Prime Minister Najib Razak personally. The latest attack against the 94-year-old billionaire Kuok came from Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz, arguably Mr. Najib’s top mad dog.

It’s no coincidence that the notorious Mr. Nazri was unleashed just a day after his boss – PM Najib – raised eyebrows when he specifically targeted Robert Kuok in a speech, claiming that the government had provided him with the key to become the “Sugar King”. Prior to that, Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, another UMNO-Malay racist, had warned Kuok not to forget his roots.

Image result for Nazri Aziz showing his fingerThe Uncouth and Crude Malaysian Minister of Tourism–Nazri Aziz


People familiar with the government SOP (standard operating system) knew instantly this is nothing but a political drama to divert attention. The only change to the script was replacing the victim with Robert Kuok. Of course, Kuok, the man worth a staggering US$15.4 billion, didn’t become rich because of Malaysian government’s handout, but through his own effort.

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Being Double-Faced won’t work with both China and Malaysian Chinese for Najib Razak. It is a question of trust, which is the foundation of guangxi for them

Najib talked as if Kuok became super-rich overnight because the government gave the Chinaman a winning lottery ticket. The Prime Minister argued that because the government gave Kuok the concession to trade sugar in the country, Kuok must forever become a slave and pro-UMNO. Of course Kuok needed a license to operate his business otherwise it would be illegal, would it not?

And from where do you think Kuok needed to apply his concession license if not from the government? Had Kuok failed in his sugar and rice trading business, would Najib proudly take the blame as well? Going by Najib’s idiotic logic, people who make money in stock market should be thankful and grateful to the government for setting up stock exchange and allowing stock trading.

On the contrary, it was Malaysian government which should be grateful to Robert Kuok because without him, the government’s coffer would not be flushed with more than 50% in taxes. In the same breath, it was because of excessive taxes that the billionaire finally decided to move to Hong Kong in 1974, forming Kerry Holdings Ltd with a capital of HK$10 million.


In case Najib and his band of mad dogs have forgotten, Kuok was also the man instrumental in setting up of MISC (Malaysian International Shipping Corporation), Bank Bumiputera and even PERNAS (National Corporation). Of course, when MISC and Bank Bumiputera fell into the hands of parasites like UMNO-Malays, they either went bust or needed massive bailout.

Image result for Robert Kuok with Deng Xiaoping

Kuok had begun his trading business years before the dawn of the NEP (New Economic Policy) era. He made his fortune by creating a niche in sugar and flour refinery, trading and hotels. The government did nothing but watch and collect taxes. And Najib’s shameless father had the cheek to demand free shares – first 20%, follows by another 20% – from Kuok’s MISC.

It’s pathetic that Najib’s henchman, Nazri has challenged the 94-year-old billionaire Kuok to contest in the coming general election. Mr. Nazri, known for this thuggish and poor upbringing, also called the Hong Kong-based tycoon a “coward with no testicles.” He also demanded Kuok to surrender his Malaysian citizenship.


Actually, Nazri should instead ask his boss Najib to strip Robert Kuok of his citizenship – if indeed the prime minister has balls at all. Then, the UMNO parasites could seize all of Kuok’s assets in Malaysia – easily worth tens of billions of US dollars – and then divide the wealth among those thieves of UMNO, as they would normally do with their ill-gotten money.


The question is – do Najib, Nazri, Tajuddin and other UMNO scumbags dare to rob Kuok of his citizenship and wealth? Why don’t Najib arrest Robert Kuok and use the Kangaroo Court to charge him for trying to overthrow the government? Heck, they can even throw in accusations of insulting the Malays, Islam and Agong (King) too. Clearly, they don’t have the balls to do so.

The simple fact that Nazri told Kuok to “surrender” instead of commanding the government to “strip” the billionaire’s citizenship, the same way they would normally do to ordinary people, speaks volumes about Nazri’s cowardice. Like it or not, they knew Robert Kuok is untouchable. That’s because Kuok has a very close relationship with Beijing.

A Distinguished Mandarin admired by Malaysians for his business acumen and integrity

In fact, stellar tycoon Robert Kuok is President Xi Jinping’s most trusted man in the country – although braggart Najib son of Razak would like to think the Chinese president likes him more. Kuok was such a respectable man in China that his meeting with paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was the last official meeting granted by Beijing before the Chinese leader stopped accepting visitors.

The respect for Kuok continues even after Xi Jinping took over. When China setup its first university abroad, the Xiamen University Malaysia Campus, at Salak Tinggi near Sepang, Robert Kuok donated RM100 million for its construction. And when Xi Jinping attended the China-Malaysia Economic Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 2013, who do you think accompanied the Chinese leader?

Well, it was Robert Kuok, of course. And if you think President Xi is another pariah Chinaman, think again. China’s governing Communist Party has just proposed removing a clause in the constitution which limits presidencies to two five-year terms. Essentially, President Xi Jinping is on the path to become more powerful than Donald Trump, or even Vladimir Putin.

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  The Globalist  President Xi Jinping of China

Xi can now extend his presidency beyond 2023 and he can actually rule for as long as he wishes to. When a delegation of 70 of the richest and most influential figures in Hong Kong flew to Beijing for a visit with Xi Jinping in 2014, the first of its kind since 2003, Robert Kuok was invited too where he brought along his son Kuok Khoon-chen.

Obviously, Kuok’s influence with the Chinese leaders in mainland China cannot and should not be underestimated. Unlike ungrateful UMNO-Malays such as Najib Razak, Beijing is still grateful to the renowned Sugar King, who secretly helped China overcome a severe sugar shortage in the early 1970s. The Chinese government’s trust and affection for Kuok didn’t stop there.

Image result for Robert Kuok with Deng Xiaoping

Whenever Chinese leaders visit Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, they deliberately choose to stay at Mr. Kuok’s Shangri-La hotel and that includes former president Hu Jintao and subsequently his successor, Xi Jinping. Even Najib’s former Special Envoy to China, ex-MCA President Ong Ka Ting, had to seek blessing from Kuok on certain crucial matters.

That’s why Ong Ka Chuan, the elder brother of Ong Ka Ting, panicked and came out of hiding to defend Robert Kuok. Mr. Ong knew the allegations over Kuok’s funding for opposition parties were baseless and dangerous, even though playing the racial cards could rally the Malay votes for his boss Najib Razak. He also knew it could jeopardise Kuok’s funding for MCA.

Go ahead, attack Robert Kuok like a mad dog. The stunt may backfire and instead rally the Chinese voters (who have otherwise decided to abstain from voting) to come out and vote in droves again for the opposition parties. Najib and his boys should be careful what they wish for. The personal attack on Kuok could be seen as an attack on Beijing, which may lead to retaliation.

With European Union boycotting and banning the use of palm oil in biofuels, producers such as Malaysia should not think with their toes about declaring a war with China’s most trusted man. An offended Beijing could simply send hints of stopping the import of palm oil from Malaysia. That would have marvellous effect on Felda settlers and stock prices.


When Najib unleashed his Red Shirt thugs with an intention to terrorize the Chinatown at Petaling Street in 2015, China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang deliberately paid a short visit to the Chinatown, sending a message to Najib regime that China would not tolerate violence, let alone bloody racial riots targeting the Chinese community.

And now, the son of Razak foolishly tries to insult and threaten Robert Kuok, the single most trusted adviser of President Xi Jinping on Malaysian matters? If a state leader like Najib dares to intimidate an influential figure like Robert Kuok, imagine what the bully has been doing all these years to the ordinary Malaysian Chinese folks, who pay 90% of the country’s taxes.


But wait, what about the photo of Robert Kuok’s nephew, James Kuok, having group photo with opposition party DAP as published by Najib’s top-paid fake news blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin? Simple – James could be there just to assess, on behalf of China, the types of foreign policies that the opposition would adopt should Pakatan Harapan (Hope’s Alliance) win the election.


Get real, do you think James would be so stupid that he took photos after handover bags of cash to the opposition party? But even if Beijing wanted Kuok to fund the opposition for the sake of hedging and protecting its interests, what’s wrong with that? After all, Najib himself told Vincent Tan to pay former opposition Hee Yit Fong RM25 million to defect, causing the collapse of Perak state government.

Message to Minister Nazri Aziz: Don’t Talk Crude

February 27, 2018

Message to Minister Nazri Aziz: Don’t Talk Crude

Pondan? Ayam? What has become of this country?

Pro-UMNO Ummah: Get Your Facts Right

January 16, 2018

Pro-UMNO Ummah: Get Your Facts Right

by  Anith Adilah

Macva president Major Tan Pau Son during Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association press conference at  The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus LatifMacva President Major Tan Pau Son during Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018.

Ethnic Chinese army veterans have railed against Malay-Muslim coalition Ummah today over the latter’s erroneous claim that only Malays had resisted British colonists, Japanese occupiers and Communist insurgents.

At a press conference today, Malaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association (Macva) President Major (Rtd) Tan Pau Son said cleric Ismail Mina Ahmad’s remarks were not only historically and factually wrong, but had belittled the contributions of the non-Malay veterans including the Ibans, Indians, Sikhs.

“We participated in defending our country and some of us still have scars to show that we were there — risking our lives,” Tan told a press conference at Mavca headquarters at Midvalley Boulevard here.

Tan said Mavca, with a membership close to 1,000 veterans since inception on August 31, 2016, and thousands who have passed on before them is a true testimony of a large group of Chinese veterans who had served loyally in military campaigns.

“Needless to say there were also Chinese veterans who sadly lost their lives and limbs in the defence of the nation. All Malaysians should rebutt all these inaccurate and irresponsible assertions made by Ismail,” he said.

iMalaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association pose for group photo after press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus LatifMalaysian Armed Forces Chinese Veterans Association pose for group photo after press conference at The Boulevard Mid Valley City January 15, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Tan also pointed out that there were six Chinese members of the armed forces who were bestowed with the Panglima Gagah Berani medals for their extreme bravery: Colonel Maurice Lam Shye Choon, Major (Rtd) Lee Ah Pow, Second Lieutenant (Rtd) David Fu Chee Ming, Sergeant (Rtd) Choo Woh Soon, Sergeant Cheng Eng Chin, and Ranger Mat Isa Hassan.

Meanwhile, three others, Lieutenant Colonel Chong Kheng Ley, Lieutenant Colonel Leong Fook Cheong, and Captain Tien Sen An, were awarded Pingat Tentera Udara for their valour.

“We have Chinese veterans who receive gallantry awards and this alone is a testament that the Malays were not the only ones who protected the nation,” he said.

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On Saturday, Ismail who is the chairman of the Ummah umbrella group for Muslim organisations, also asserted that only the Malays had battled the Communists, which he claimed made the community a target of the predominantly-Chinese Insurgency that lasted for forty years.

One particular war veteran who narrowly escaped death while fighting a battle in Southern Thailand in 1978, said he was hurt and angered by Ismail’s remarks in the convention outlining the demands of the Muslim lobby.


Warrant Officer Patrick Lee Kai Tong said Ismail’s statement was not only ignorant but hurtful to armed forces who had witnessed countless deaths and suffered various injuries in the name of the country.

Lee, now 71, walks around with a hole in his left arm after being shot by the communists who had zeroed in on the Nuri helicopter he was in while landing to provide ammunition supply to his own troop.

“Does he even know what it is like to be in a warzone? He can say what he want but do not hurt people’s feelings,” Lee said.

“Maybe this scar from an M-16 is not enough for me to prove that I was there fighting for the country but know that every memory, every death — even the smell of it stays with me.”

Tan also chided Ismail for conveniently forgetting that there were many Malay members among the Communist insurgents.

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“In Ismail’s speech, he failed to mention that the 10th Regiment Malayan Communist Party was predominantly a Malay regiment unit operating in the jungles of Northern Malaysia and Southern Thailand. The leader was Abdullah CD and his followers Suriani Abdullah, Shamsiah Fakeh, Abu Samah Mohamad Kassim and Rashid Maidin,” Tan said.

The new Normal in Malaysian Politics

December 25, 2017

The new Normal in Malaysian Politics

Author: Editorial Board, East Asia Forum
Image result for The new Normal in Malaysian PoliticsPremier Najib Razak–An Abnormal Malaysian Politician

Among the legacies of British colonial rule in Malaysia were marked economic and socio-cultural divisions between the country’s ethnic groups. For many years after independence, the Malays, the largest ethnic group, played a negligible role in the economy relative to large minorities of people of Chinese and South Asian descent. Since the 1970s, the state-led effort to boost the economic role of Malays under coalition governments led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has been at the very core of Malaysia’s politics. 

Debate continues about the extent and sources of, and appropriate remedies for, the economic divide. Still, the intentions of UMNO leaders from the 1970s onwards in championing positive discrimination in favour of Malays were understandable, given the obvious hazards for social cohesion posed by a highly visible wealth gap between ethnic groups.

The cause of Malay economic empowerment brought its fair share of problems. By the end of the 23-year rule of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, it was clear that the UMNO-led effort to build a Malay capitalist class had helped sanctify and institutionalise a system of cronyism. Affirmative action policies for the Malay middle class — ranging from generous racial quotas in public universities to subsidised loans for Malay borrowers — were increasingly resented by non-Malays, many of the more skilled and affluent of whom joined the ‘brain drain’ overseas.

Moreover, Malaysians paid a heavy price in terms of their political freedoms. Behind the economic growth and political stability that UMNO could advertise to the world was a marked decay in the quality and independence of the country’s political institutions — particularly the judiciary and civil service — censorship of the media, and pervasive corruption.

Image result for Mahathir

Yet judged in pragmatic terms, the formula worked. Most notably under the rule of Mahathir Mohamad from 1981 to 2003, rapid growth — with the dice loaded in favour of Malays — succeeded in both creating a large Malay middle class and generating performance legitimacy among minorities, who also felt the benefits of the economic boom and accompanying political and social stability. Politically, this inter-communal settlement found expression in the form of the Barisan Nasional (BN, or National Front) coalition, whereby UMNO became the senior partner in a coalition with Chinese, Indian and Bornean parties — an arrangement which endures today.

Will that arrangement endure much longer? In this week’s lead article, which launches our year in review series, Clive Kessler argues that in the general elections widely expected for the first quarter of 2018, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s strategy to secure his hold on power may be steering Malaysia towards a significant political realignment. For the first time, Kessler writes, the election ‘will see the two great Malay political parties — UMNO and the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) — working implicitly as allies, not rivals’.

The longest standing sources of political opposition to UMNO-led rule have been the secularist, Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), on one end of the political spectrum, and the Islamist PAS, on the other. Periods of cooperation between these two forces in opposition coalitions has been — understandably, given their radically different visions for Malaysian society — marked by tension.

Unless united in a coherent coalition, none of the opposition parties — the DAP, the UMNO offshoot Bersatu (led by the 92-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir), or Anwar Ibrahim’s People’s Justice Party (PKR) — can hope to overcome the parliamentary gerrymander which helps keep UMNO in power. Thus, as Kessler notes, driving a wedge between the Islamist and secularist blocs of the opposition has been a key part of Najib’s strategy to ‘break’ the political opposition during his prime ministership.

The wedge in question was the perennial issue of the role that Islamic law should play in Malaysia’s legal system. UMNO has always understood the versatility of Islam as a wedge issue; posing as the defender of pluralism in elections past to win votes for the BN coalition from non-Malays spooked by the opposition’s accommodation of PAS, while at other times peeling away Malay votes from PAS by portraying the opposition coalitions as hostile to Malay economic interests and, increasingly, Malay and Islamic cultural dominance.

But in the aftermath of the near-abandonment of the BN coalition by non-Malay voters in the 2013 general election, UMNO sees increasing monopoly over Malay votes — potentially, in coalition with PAS, its long time rival for Malay support — as the path to continuing political preeminence. As Kessler observes, ‘UMNO knows the score — it can rule forever, so long as PAS wants it to and lets it do so’. Thus, a new political settlement may be emerging, one which Kessler argues will see non-Malay political forces sidelined.

The result of this electoral strategy is UMNO’s increasingly strident Malay supremacism — now accompanied by concessions to PAS’s agenda of enshrining sharia law federally. PAS understands the opportunity, knowing well how it can ‘make UMNO its hostage and ensure it would forever find itself pressured to adopt PAS-congenial and Islam-promoting policies’. This interplay, Kessler writes, ‘has produced the increasing and, over recent years, radical de-secularisation of Malay society and Malaysian politics’.

What would another term of government for Najib under such a political settlement mean for Malaysia? The first implication is that Najib will almost certainly survive the 1MDB Berhad corruption scandal unscathed. Decades of institutional degeneration under UMNO rule, and the concentration of power in the office of the prime minister, has seen Najib able to swat away any domestic attempts to hold him account for his role in the 1MDB affair. The unfortunate importance of identity politics in shaping voter behaviour also helps insulate him from much of the electoral backlash.

The second is the acceleration of Malaysia’s march towards a greater role for Islam in the law and in society. In the coming years, Malaysia’s minorities will be increasingly left in little doubt as to their status as second class citizens, with diminishing political clout as the gerrymander, and the increasing interdependence of UMNO and PAS, render their votes less important. Liberal Muslims will likely see their personal freedoms further eroded as the government enforces puritanical interpretations of Islamic law with greater vigour.

Under the new political formula outlined by Kessler, the rule of UMNO, already the world’s longest-governing political party, looks set to be extended for many years to come. If the party continues down its current path under Najib, the losers will be the people of Malaysia, as the post-independence dream of a secular, pluralist and democratic nation drifts further out of sight.

This article is part of an EAF special feature series on 2017 in review and the year ahead.

The EAF Editorial Board is comprised of Peter Drysdale, Shiro Armstrong, Ben Ascione, Amy King, Liam Gammon, Jillian Mowbray-Tsutsumi and Ben Hillman, and is located in the Crawford School of Public Policy in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

Najib Razak-UMNO Baru Symbiotic Partnership

December 21, 2017

Najib Razak-UMNO Baru Symbiotic Partnership

by Mariam

COMMENT | It is a match made in heaven: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the jet-setting, career politician and anti-cartoonist, and UMNO Baru, the party that claims to defend Malays and protect Islam.

Najib received his lucky break when he was propelled into the political limelight following the death of his father in 1976. The allegations surrounding his lack of an academic degree are something of an urban myth.

A former bodyguard claimed that he could not bear to hear Najib’s speeches when the latter was the MP for Pekan, because of his lack of fluency in Malay on his return from England.


Would UMNO Baru have been less fractured if Najib had not had his lucky break in Pekan? Najib is here now because he was used, in the same way as he uses people today. The first of the seven deadly political sins, to which he fell victim, is greed. He is prepared to do what it takes to be accepted by the rakyat.

Former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking to The UK’s Guardian newspaper in 2015 claimed that Najib had purportedly admitted that “cash is king”.

Najib frequently boasts of his own importance. He does not want others to think ill of him. Only his party is capable of defending the Malays and protecting Islam. He even risked sending our troops to Jerusalem to defend the Palestinians. Proud people do not like to be told they are terrible, or wrong, because they secretly know this already.

Timid and fragile

At a gathering of American and ASEAN corporate leaders in Washington last September, Najib accused the opposition of sabotaging his administration, and accused them of blowing the 1MDB issue out of proportion in a failed attempt to topple his government.

The following month, he warned a gathering of 5,000 civil servants about the opposition’s tactics and said, “Do you dare to gamble your children’s and grandchildren’s future in their hands?” (sic)


Najib is too proud to reverse what he has done, and he obviously has not heard the saying, “Pride goeth before political destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Most politicians are driven, but Najib seems too timid and too fragile, and it is alleged that he is not the driving force behind his political leanings.

When the washed-up actor Mat Over slapped a member of the audience for asking a challenging question at the Transformasi Nasional (TN) 50 dialogue last May, Najib just grinned. He should have intervened, but did not.

Image result for Nothing to hide 2015


Najib has been known to keep quiet about many issues. When the royals attacked the extreme mullahs for threatening national harmony, Najib said nothing. When Lahad Datu was invaded, there was no immediate reaction from him. He failed to appear at the “Nothing to Hide” forum. He refused to take part in debates with opposition leaders. It’s not that he is consumed by laziness. Perhaps he is just afraid.

He avoids tricky questions at press conferences, and simply walks out. He is afraid of doing something bold or saying something wrong. He rarely comments on controversial topics, but his Twitter feed is full of mundane comments, like praising the toilets at KLIA. He appears to be overcome by sloth.

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Najib appears emotionally starved of the rakyat’s affection, but at the same time, seems to be a glutton for power and control. Celebrities are loved by the public for their talents. What has Najib got? Would he get any votes, if he didn’t have any means to seduce voters?

Mahathir is a champion of the rural Malays. The well-read PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim knows how to push the right buttons and connect with people. Najib has none of these talents.

Envious of the successes of his adversaries, he reacts by removing their influence. Anwar sits in jail, and Mahathir is treated like a common criminal who is interviewed by the police. The Inland Revenue Department investigates the affairs of his children and close friends, and his privileges as a former PM have been withdrawn.

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The UMNO Kaki Ampus

Men in positions of power draw women like flies to cow pats. They attract women, not because of their likeable personalities, but many women treat them as mere “conquests”. These men are vulnerable and lonely, so they lust over any woman who preys on them.

Genuine affection and acceptance is in short supply in the real world, and even more so when you are at the top of the political trash heap.

So who is stronger?

Najib has 1MDB and a coterie of loyal subordinates who are prepared to dance to his tune.

He has found a niche for himself, by tapping into the fears of the insecure and handout dependent Malays. He may have learned this trick from his former sifu, Mahathir. At least Mahathir had some principles, with his “Look East” policy. Not Najib.

He acts like the proverbial man who is frequently unfaithful, while professing to swear his love for his wife. Najib likewise wants to be friends with both US President Donald Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping.

Najib and UMNO-Baru enjoy a symbiotic relationship. They feed off each other, except Najib is easily replaceable.