COMMENT His Umno critics claim that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is attempting to impress United States President Barack Obama with his so-called moderate and liberal leadership.
And it is purportedly because of this, the Internal Security Act, a potent weapon in the ruling coalition’s arsenal to silence political dissent in the past, was repealed, much to the chagrin of certain powerful factions.
During his recent visit to Malaysia, Najib’s admiration for Obama was captured in a series of ecstatic selfies with the US president, including when riding together in the latter’s official car.
Among those who have repeatedly lashed out at the prime minister is Zainuddin Maidin, whose jibes are often peppered with the Obama factor.
Some believe that the ex-information minister is spewing the views of his mentor, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad and like-minded warlords in Umno.
Even when an explosion rocked a nightclub in Kuala Lumpur last week, Zainuddin blasted Najib for scrapping the ISA for Obama’s sake.
"You cannot stop people from thinking that it happened because the Malaysian prime minister wants to portray himself as a hero to Obama in placing democracy and liberalism on par with the values of Western globalisation, to the point of being willing to repeal the ISA, which served to protect the nation’s security," he had blogged.
Mahathir himself had aired his reservations about Najib being too accommodating with the superpower with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations.
Some claimed that Mahathir was slighted because he was not invited to attend a dinner with Obama during his visit.
Whether or not Najib has a life-size poster of Obama on his bedroom wall or if his actions are executed to win brownie points from the US president, what is undeniable is the fact that the two are galaxies apart.
Najib’s frustration with the Chinese community for not supporting BN despite all his attempts to woo them was revealed during his speech at the MCA annual meeting.
He has come under intense criticism from certain factions in Umno because the courtship had not borne fruit and worse, they feared it could see the Malays turning their backs on the party.
So forgetting his role as the elected prime minister for all and not just BN supporters, Najib told the Chinese community not to make demands to the government if they backed the opposition bloc.
And if Obama had heard Najib’s speech, the US president would have been mortified.
It appears that Najib had not read Obama’s acceptance speech in 2008. If he had, the prime minister would have picked up a few pointers on how to be a polished politician instead of coming across as a bitter child.
After winning the presidential election, Obama had said: “And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president too.”
Addressing the issue of partisan politics, he added: “Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity.”
“Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, ‘we are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.’”
Dear Mr Prime Minister, this is the hallmark of a first world leader. You, on the other hand, are just displaying the hallmarks of an average third world politician.