What’s not to ‘like’ about Najib?
FORMER prime minister Najib Razak’s Facebook posts have received the highest engagements at 4.4 million since the movement control order, checks have shown.
Between January 14 and 20, the 67-year-old had 49 posts on his Facebook page and garnered 4.4 million engagements.
Among politicians, Najib’s Facebook page had three times more engagements than Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who only received 1.3 million engagements with seven postings.
The other politicians with a high number of engagements were Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman (522,000 over 31 posts), Pakatan Harapan chairman Anwar Ibrahim (490,000 over 25 posts) and former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad (131,000 over five posts).
Najib’s popularity on Facebook does not come as a surprise to Universiti Malaya’s Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi.
“He has been focusing more on social media compared to the others. Moreover, the issues Najib highlights are like economy, social and politics… issues that are popular with many Malaysians,” said the Malay ethnic studies lecturer.
He said Najib is able to connect with the public as he is always on the ground among the working class and B40 group, said Awang Azman.
“And I believe this is working and some of his followers are beginning to sympathise with his legal issues.
“The public also remembers his 1Malaysia laptop scheme and the cash handouts,” said Awang Azman.
Umno Batu division exco Norhisham Abdul Mutalib pointed out that Najib’s popularity comes at a time when current Umno president Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s star is waning.
“Although, I want to see a younger set of leaders take over, it’s interesting to see him regain some popularity again
“Maybe, this is in part due to the troubles Umno and Zahid are facing and members are feeling nostalgic towards Najib,” said Norhisham.
Recently, Umno Paya Besar openly urged Zahid to resign. This came in the wake of former Umno and Barisan Nasional secretary-general Annuar Musa alleging that Zahid was planning to work with DAP and Anwar to oust the Perikatan Nasional government.
“Another reason why Najib is popular on social media is he highlights issues and problems about the government that resonate with the general public.
“As it is, the current government is not very popular with the way it is handling the country,” said Norhisham.
International Islamic University of Malaysia’s political science lecturer Dr Lau Zhe Wei warned that high engagement does not necessarily mean people want Najib back as prime minister or Umno president.
“There’s no doubt he is popular among the lower-income groups and his public relations on social media has been better, but this does not automatically translate into votes,” said Lau.
“His posts are informative, give good ideas and are professionally done. Compared to Dr Mahathir or Muhyiddin, Najib’s Facebook posts are more creative.”
Lau, however, added that without any official position in government or the party, Najib can be as creative as he wants, but it may end up nowhere.
Don’t dream of being PM again, DAP rep tells Dr Mahathir
Dr Mahathir now heads a new party, Pejuang, after being ejected from Bersatu by Muhyiddin. Pejuang is not part of PH but counts itself among the opposition ranks. Meanwhile, Pejuang’s official status is in question, with the Registrar of Societies rejecting its application to be recognised.
Dr Mahathir had set aside past enmity with Anwar for the 2018 general election, which PH won, ending six decades of Barisan Nasional rule.
There was even a pre-election agreement between all PH parties that Anwar would take over form the nonagenarian as prime minister before the PH government’s five-year term was up.
The details of the transition plan were being discussed when PN ousted PH last year.
Now, out of power, Dr Mahathir has been saying that he never thought Anwar would have made a good PM, that he could never get along with his former protege, and that he never believed the Anwar’s assertions he had the numbers to change the government.
Ng said it was Dr Mahathir who did not keep his promise to hand over to Anwar, while Anwar never betrayed him.
“Dr Mahathir kept saying that Anwar cannot gain power because he refuses to co-operate, but why can’t Dr Mahathir work with Anwar instead?
“I believe that Dr Mahathir has failed to uphold his promise made since the start of the struggle, but Anwar did not betray him,” the four-term Sekinchan rep said.
Ng added that Dr Mahathir should consider the views of others, and let Anwar and PH take the lead instead of wasting time attempting to undermine the coalition.
“DAP must be steadfast in its alliance with PKR and Amanah, the party has been through thick and thin with Anwar until today. Such staunch allies are hard to find these days.
“If you say having Anwar lead PH is problematic, other options are also problematic. It is difficult to find anyone else to lead the struggle. There are no ‘perfect’ Malay leaders out there.
“So, who we do have but Anwar? We want Dr Mahathir to stop dreaming about becoming prime minister for the third time. He keeps saying that Anwar does not have enough Malay support, but this is not true.
“In GE13 (in 2013), we received many Malay votes, and we did not have Dr Mahathir in our corner at that time,” he said.
Dr Mahathir formed Bersatu in 2016 and thereafter joined PH for the 2018 election campaign.
Ng also said Dr Mahathir had spoken wrongly for DAP, when he said DAP had supported other candidates for prime minister instead of Anwar.
When Warisan president Mohd Shafie Apdal’s name was raised as an alternative to Anwar for the PM post, Dr Mahathir said the suggestion came from DAP.
“Yes, this may have come up in previous negotiations, but for Dr Mahathir to make such allegations does not help the alliance. We have said before that we can co-operate with Dr Mahathir after he resigned as prime minister, but he keeps throwing a spanner in the works.”
Ng also feels that Dr Mahathir owes the country an “apology” over his resignation as PM, after Muhyiddin took Bersatu out of the coalition last year.
“Muhyiddin has not resigned despite losing majority support in the Dewan Rakyat (now), which was the opposite of what Dr Mahathir did when PH lost power.
“So why did Dr Mahathir resign back then? I think he owes all Malaysians an apology for his hasty decision,” Ng said.
When Muhyiddin pulled Bersatu out of the PH alliance, the government lost its majority in the Dewan Rakyat and Dr Mahathir resigned as prime minister, ending the coalition’s 22-month rule.
After the PH government’s fall, some quarters had accused Dr Mahathir of unilaterally resigning as prime minister.
However, he said he resigned because Bersatu’s exit from PH made his position untenable, according to the federal constitution.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT