Najib – coming up to the half way mark of 2010

The Greek financial crisis (read here) and class war in Bangkok (read here) provided Najib Razak two scenarios that he may have to address in the very near future, if he continues to remain as Prime Minister (read here)

Najib is uncertain on how to proceed on his economic reforms as the public still has mixed views on his ability to lead Malaysia. He faced two recent by-elections, winning one and loosing the other, despite him campaigning         heavily and throwing everything at the voters, including the proverbial kitchen sink. Observers agree that Najib has brought BN to an all time low in his approach to campaigning. While the BN is synonymous with the 3M (money, machinery and media), the depth and width of unethical behaviour that the Prime Minister demonstrated –character assassination, promises of money in return for votes – was unprecedented (read here, here, here and here). 

Facing a ballooning deficit (read here), his strategy demanding that Malaysians accept painful cuts in subsidies while not addressing systemic corruption and inefficiency and legalising sports betting to increase dwindling government coffers have not endeared him with the public (read here and here).

The recent Cabinet reshuffle was also a major disappointment. Individuals    tainted with scandal and nepotism were the order of the day with the sole BN Minister credited with doing something about corruption was dropped (read here and here).  His continued flip-flops and inability to stamp out corruption and inefficiency has continued to damage his mediocre standing in the eyes of the public.

He now faces his biggest challenge as he had promised to announce the final and definitive part of the New Economic Model (read here) in June, followed by the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) to complete his overarching framework which includes the GTP and the 1Malaysia.

Najib was hoping that the general public would take kindly to his administration in order to outflank right wingers within his party manifested as PERKASA but this has not been forthcoming hence the continued policy flip-flop.

Nevertheless, Najib has had some success in international relations (increasingly close relationship with historical rivals such as Singapore and Indonesia and Mahathir’s arch enemies, the US and Australia) and the economy rebounded very strongly (10.1% yoy) in the first quarter of 2010 (read here). Najib also announced his report card, noting how the government had achieved its targets (NKRAs), in preparation for the NEM announcement (read here and here).

But those appear to be insufficient to please the right-wingers. PERKASA has rejected the NEM and so has Mahathir (read here and here). It is a tragedy that Najib has allowed PERKASA to define his reform debate. Any substantive and meaningful debate has surely now been reduced to nothing more than defending “Malay Rights” – the very source of Malaysia’s problems.

Best wishes to Najib and Malaysia (read here).

Earlier analysis on Najib

  1. Najib’s first year in office (Part 1) (Read here)
  2. Najib’s first year in office (Part 2) (Read here)
  3. Najib’s first year in office (Conclusion) (Read here)