Najib must hold elections by early 2013 but the horizon is looking bleak. It is likely that Najib is building international support, especially from the United States, should he decide not to call for elections (ala Musharaff in Pakistan) or if he rigs the elections (ala Karzai in Afghanistan). If so, he will claim that he is the international community’s best bet for peace and stability in this region.
Najib Razak is continuing his strategy of charming the United States. One can only wonder why.
At the General Debate of the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Najib Razak, Prime Minister of 1Malaysia, espoused the values of moderation (read his speech here). In closing, he had this to say:
…It is time for moderates of all countries, of all religions to take back the centre, to reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and to marginalise the extremists. This “Global Movement of the Moderates” will save us from sinking into the abyss of despair and depravation. This is an opportunity for us to provide the much needed leadership to bring hope and restore dignity for all. With greater will and collective determination, we will build a more peaceful, secure and equitable world.
Imagine this from a government that has retained control of the nation by systematically undermining the rights of its citizens through its policy of racial and religious bigotry.
And while he was espousing these noble values in New York, it was business as usual for his administration:
a) Cartoon-o-phobia, 24 September 2010.
The Royal Malaysian Police detained popular cartoonist Zunar hours before the launch of his latest book, Cartoon-o-phobia on the charges of sedition (here and here) for allegedly making fun of the Prime Minister and his wife. The police also raided his office and confiscated 66 of his books for ‘investigation’. View video of interview with Zunar: Cartoon-o-phobia
b) Blogger sued for satire, 1 September 2010
A blogger, who goes by the name Hassan skodeng is being sued under Malaysia’s Multimedia and Communications Act 1998 for poking fun at the national electricity corporation, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB). The blogger had written a ‘news article’ (read his satire here) stating that TNB will be suing Earth Hour for loss of revenues (there are opinions on the case here). And for an interview with a prominent blogger, Rocky Bru, in relation to this case: Blogger sued for satire
c) Opposition newspapers targeted, 5 July 2010.
The Home Ministry has refused to renew the licence of opposition party newspapers. Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) official mouthpiece, Suara Keadilan, had its license revoked (read here) while the government raided the printer of the Islamic party’s official newspaper (read here).
At the same time, Malay chauvinists are having a field day, none more spectacular than Dr. Mahathir who once again reiterated that Malays would lose power if they voted for the opposition. [Note: It is impossible for Malays to lose power. It is likely the case that UMNO will lose power. Read here]
Najib must hold elections by early 2013 but, as I said above, the horizon looks bleak. Najib’s doublespeak may pacify the international community but he is clearly not winning any friends in Malaysia, who long ago have lost their trust in him.
Update 1: Listen to Najib explain why Malaysia is re-engaging the US, at the Council of Foreign Relations here.