PETALING JAYA – Conservative Muslims are apparently not pleased with Prime Minister Najib Razak as he is deemed to be too accommodating of minorities, a political analyst said today.
Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Kamarul Zaman Yusoff said this was some of the feedback he had received following the recent Umno general assembly.
“Umno risks losing votes from conservative Muslims should the prime minister focus on wooing minorities,” he said, adding that some conservative Muslims were unhappy with Najib’s remarks at the party’s annual general assembly.
“He was seen as not being conservative enough. That’s because he changed his tactic again to facilitate the minorities.
“This is unlike just after GE13 where he was focusing on Malays,” Kamarul Zaman told FMT.
He was asked to respond to a report in The Diplomat which said that Najib has to balance his “Malay first” policy with his outreach to minority Malaysians, to win the next general election (GE14).
The report added that with Umno facing internal problems, and the 1MDB affair threatening his position, Najib had rebranded his leadership to be less liberal and moderate, while the party shifted towards a more conservative Islam.
That move, the report said, might have saved his leadership then, but it was now coming to haunt him ahead of GE14 which must be called by next June.
The report also noted that the needs and rights of the ethnic Indian community had been largely ignored by the government, and many promises made during the 2013 election had yet to be realised.
However, Kamarul Zaman said there was talk on the ground that the conservative Muslims feel Najib is changing his tactic as he felt the Malays are rallying behind Umno.
“Now he is trying to get the minorities to support him too. But the conservative Malays feel they are being taken for granted,” he said.
Kamarul Zaman pointed out that PAS, even though they are contesting independently, could join hands with Pakatan Harapan at the last minute.
“In politics, anything can change. PAS might not work with PH for the whole country but it might want to work together in certain seats.
“So, he (Najib) has to choose which group he wants to focus on.
“With non-Malay support having dwindled and most of them backing Pakatan, it might be a lost cause to try and win non-Malay support back to BN,” he said.
Umno trying to cover own failures?
Meanwhile, Batu MP Tian Chua believes Umno would just revert to the usual strategy of getting close to non-Muslims as the next general election nears.
“If we look internally, Umno would play internal racial sentiments but would then say something nice when they need the votes from non-Malays.
“I am not sure people will fall for it though,” he told FMT.
Due to that, the PKR vice-president said Najib claiming that Umno is not a racist party in his speech at the Umno general assembly may not reflect the sentiment within the main party in the Barisan Nasional coalition.
“Umno has been manipulating the public to cover their failures in maintaining harmony.
DAP’s Klang MP Charles Santiago said the perception of BN is that it is a Malay government but the Chinese and the Indians are protected.
But he said the politics of the country will push the prime minister in certain directions.
“So, the prime minister has to make a decision if he is the leader of the political party or the leader of the country.
“The way the politics of this country is structured he can’t be fair to everyone.”