AS Najib Razak is set visit Donald Trump tomorrow, let’s see what these two men have in common.
Both Najib and Trump won power despite losing the popular vote.
In Malaysia: Najib captured 133 (59.9%) out of 222 Parliamentary seats with a mere 5,237,699 (47.4%) popular votes. His opponent Anwar Ibrahim won 5,623,984 (50.8%) of the total votes but only managed to capture 89 (40.1%) Parliamentary seats.
In US: Trump captured 304 (57.3%) out of 531 electoral college votes with a mere 62,984,825 (48.7%) popular votes. His opponent Hillary Clinton won 128,838,341 (51.3%) of the total votes but only managed to capture 227 (42.7%%) electoral college votes.
Both Najib and Trump have in the past sacked law enforcers who were investigating them or persons connected to them.
In Malaysia: Najib sacked Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail when investigation into 1MDB was underway. On paper, it says Gani resigned, but only God knows what actually happened. Bank Negara governor Zeti Aziz and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief Abu Kassim Mohamed’s contracts were also not renewed. Both Zeti and Abu Kassim were part of the 1MDB taskforce.
In US: Trump fired acting-AG Sally Yates for putting a halt to the immigration ban. He also sacked FBI Director James Comey when investigations into the Russian-ties-to-the-Trump-campaign were underway.
3. Refusal to condemn racial supremacists
Both Najib and Trump have a track record of being reluctant to condemn racial/religious supremacists. As public figures and the number one person in the executive branch, failure to do so is as good as endorsing racism.
In Malaysia: Najib did not condemn the red shirt rally when it happened. He has also been silent on the likes of Perkasa and Ali Tinju. Have we forgotten the “Apa lagi Cina mahu”, the “Balik Tongsan” and “Balik India” slurs?
In US: Trump who usually has happy fingers on Twitter, was apparently quiet for a few days when the violence in Charlottesville occurred. He finally admitted that the white supremacist protesters “did wrong”, but blunted the sword to put equal blame on the counter protesters. He has also never condemned the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo-Nazis or the white supremacists.
4. Election campaign
Both Najib and Trump campaigns along the racial and religious lines to secure a largely mono-race support base. They also play politically to the rural, majority ethnic base by tapping nationalist sentiments.
In Malaysia: It is always the Chinese’s fault for having a bigger share in the economy, or the Christians trying to Christianise the country. Despite a clear urban swing to the opposition, Najib’s success in the rural areas secured him the premiership in 2013. Topics on anti-racism, clean governance did not strike a chord among the Malay rural heartland, instead rhetorics of status quo, Malay/Muslim dominance, fear of DAP/Chinese dominance, the need for UMNO to continue protecting the Malays made the difference.
In US: It is always the immigrants taking away American jobs, or the Muslims trying to Islamise the country. Trump enjoyed resounding support from areas far from Metro towns, whereas Clinton secured her votes from the urban townships. The nationalist and white Make America Great Again slogan struck a chord with the rural sentiments, because rural folks, predominantly white, were promised jobs will return to America.
5. Attack the media
When things go south, both Najib and Trump will start targeting the media.
In Malaysia: Najib and his colleagues will normally go for the usual line- “the media misquoted me”.
In US: Trump calls unfriendly media “fake news”.
6. Empty cans
Both Najib and Trump are tin-kosong. They accuse their opponents of being corrupted, yet take no real action. For them, it isn’t about punishing their opponents for the alleged crimes, but to run campaigns to create the image that their opponents are corrupted.
In Malaysia: Najib is on a campaign to paint Dr Mahathir as a corrupted opponent. Thus the emergence of the RCI to look into the forex/BNM scandal. Despite these accusations, Najib will not dare charge Dr Mahathir in court. He doesn’t mean what he says, because it is only a campaign to drag Dr Mahathir through the mud without actually trying to jail him. If really Dr Mahathir is guilty as accused and with all the so called evidence as claimed, why wouldn’t the AG just charge Dr Mahathir in court?
In US: “Drain the swamp” re-emerged during the US presidential elections, where Trump and his campaign team took the former administration to task with pledges of cleaning up DC if elected to power. “Lock her up” in reference to jailing Hillary Clinton and promises of a special prosecutor to look into the email scandal was also part of the campaign themes. Similar to Malaysia, what Trump wanted to achieve wasn’t so much of seeing the corrupt politicians or bureaucrats in DC jailed. What they really wanted to achieve was to smear their opponents in an attempt to gain votes. Today, after nearly a year in power, how many swamps in DC have actually been drained? When will Trump actually appoint the special prosecutor to look into Hillary’s email scandal? What happened to “lock her up”?
7. Jealous leaders
Both Najib and Trump have an extremely disturbing obsession of their predecessors.
In Malaysia: Najib instead of building his own Najib-brand, is now engrossed in showing the Malaysian public he is a better PM than Mahathir. No other Prime Minister in history during their tenure, is all out to show they are better than their predecessor. Neither Rahman, Razak, Hussein Onn nor Pak Lah during their tenure was obsessed with comparing themselves to their predecessors. Only Najib is trying to show he is a better PM than Dr Mahathir. When MRT was launched, his team did not miss the chance to make a comparison between Najib’s MRT and Mahathir’s LRT. When TN50 was launched, the propaganda was spun to show that Najib’s TN50 is better than Mahathir’s Wawasan 2020. We will probably see a Menara Wawasan vs Twin Tower in future.
In US: Trump is all out to remove what Barack Obama built. From the opening to Cuba to climate deals, trade agreements to even domestic healthcare. Trump isn’t building something Obama didnt build. Brick by brick he is removing what Obama did. When Obama was in office, he initiated to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba, something ground-breaking considering the hostility between both countries since 1959. The Paris climate accord signed in 2015 was the first of its kind with as many as 195 (to date) pledging to do their part to reduce global warming. The TPP and Affordable Care Act which were both also established during his predecessor’s tenure. All are being dismantled, brick by brick.
Najib and Trump certainly have a lot in common.