Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is Najib in a tail-spin?

Is Najib in a tail-spin?

By Dr. Dzukelfly Ahmad

NOV 30 — Najib Razak must be trembling. Nothing could be more terrifying to a premier than the prospect of losing a general election. For Najib, that is an understatement.
Worse still, he will go down in history as the “appointed” prime minister of the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government that eventually lost its uninterrupted power to the opposition. That is indeed extremely scary. Losing is, thus, not an option for Najib.
But Najib’s penchant for flip-flopping is almost ingrained in his demeanour and style of leadership. Blaming it on “nature” is contrary to the “consistency” of the second prime minister of this nation.
Beyond just flip-flopping, this writer would now have to believe that Najib hasn’t got what it takes to bring this ailing nation out of its unending doldrums and despondency.
Najib doesn’t quite understand, or at least doesn’t exude understanding of the “change process”, much less a passion and a commitment to see it through. That is even more distressing, to say the least.
Indeed, Najib has actually failed grasp the fact that, without “reformation”, the hope for “transformation” is a merely an illusion.
His revulsion for the word “Reformasi” could very well be his greatest “blind-spot” for the need to undertake genuine fundamental and structural reforms before he could ever hope to see a “Transformation”, both in the economics and political sphere.
In the same vein, without the “real reform” in the New Economic Model, Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme and Entry Point Programmes are in fact a large-scale, anti-cyclical Keynesian pump-priming from Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s “Mahathirnomics”.
Najib’s failure to incorporate “real reform” in the NEM is the stifling factor has disabled the nation to propel into a higher performing economy with a concomitant higher income per capita.
Perkasa, contracted by Najib’s party, continues their vitriolic racial slurs. Never has religious understanding taken a worse beating. The major-ethnic-and-religion-under-siege narrative is evidently “laughable”.
He could talk in London, New York and Washington of opening up the public space and moderation in Islam when in fact the hollowness of his pronouncements is what we as Malaysians have to live with.
On the back of his oft-repeated mantra of “Government Transformation”, the colossal losses as evident by the Auditor-General’s report remained unabated, to the disgust of many a tax-payer. The endemic leakages remain agonising.
Critical examples of fiscal mismanagement such as Shahrizat Jalil’s National Feedlot Corp’s meltdown stood as a testimony. The impunity with which cronies live off government funds whilst BN ministers, Najib included, call for austerity and a “rationalisation” on subsidy, is a cardinal sin.
Millions have been spent on international consulting firms that went on an orgy of image building rampage. Fresh in the minds of many is the shocking revelation that RM55 million of tax-payers’ money was used for expensive propaganda to glorify Najib, his government and his policies, screened on international channels like CNN, CNBC and BBC.
Najib must stop his fervour for “window-dressing” — the illusion something is being done when nothing of consequence is being accomplished. Never mind the bicycle-ride, on the bus, breakfast with the new social media Facebook-Twitter friends, etc. But beyond those, nothing much were achieved.
He has almost perfected the art but failed miserably on the “real reforms”. With genuine “reforms” constantly side-stepped, “transformation” is a far-cry. That’s deplorable.
Has Najib’s grandstanding of September 15 come to naught? The much-hyped political reforms, promised by Najib to bring us into a new era of the “best democracy’, have exploded in the face of the rakyat as a sham to democratisation.
The rakyat were promised that the internal Security Act (ISA) would be revoked and they were jubilant. Their joy was short-lived, however, when it was later revealed that two other laws would replace the ISA, retaining the obnoxious detention without trial.
The same undemocratic features of the ISA will now come under a new rubric, gravely disappointing the rakyat and further deepening their distrust and disgust towards Najib.
The infamous “revolutionary” Bill ensued and what was supposedly to be a “giant leap” for the nation. The rakyat were promised democratic freedom of assembly without the need for police permit. They were again ecstatic until they realised that the Peaceful Assembly Bill was in fact to deny their democratic right to assemble.
It wasn’t meant to be a Peaceful Assembly Bill — it is a Bill against the Freedom of Assembly. The Bill imposes many unjust restrictions and conditions. Organisers and all participants are subjected to heavy penalties. It is clearly meant to discourage bona-fide dissent and protests from ever taking place.
The entire civil society and the opposition are united against him. Najib has a few options: to withdraw the Bill, to refer it to a Parliamentary Select Committee, or to simply blame it on others. Granted, his choice is obvious.
A gathering of disgruntled lawyers marched yesterday from the Lake Gardens to Parliament in protest against the Peaceful Assembly Bill, which has made a huge mockery of the fundamental liberty as enshrined in the Federal Constitution in Article 10.
With Bersih 3.0 so real in the horizon, it only takes Hindraf 2.0 to be back on stage to trigger for Najib a disastrous tail-spin reminiscent of event preceding the 12th general election.
His worst nightmare would still be his party’s dissenting warlords, whom he has to appease and cajole in the on-going general assembly.
Is an “Umno Spring” ever plausible on the verge of the 13th GE looming closer? Another long deferred reform has again to take a back-seat.
The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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