How long will Najib last?

How long will Najib last?

QUESTION TIME There’s a better than even chance that Najib will not be PM for long.

While forecasting is pretty dangerous, I humbly estimate that there’s a better than even chance that Najib Razak will not be prime minister for long – he won’t take Umno into the next polls, putting his remaining time at the top at two to three years from now.

While there is a strong impression of support for him within Umno, there is one key question that will weigh heavily – very heavily – on the collective mind of the party: With Najib leading the party, will Umno and its allies under BN be able to muster enough votes to win the next general election?

This question assumes far greater seriousness because the latest available opinion polls from the Merdeka Center indicate that there has been a large swing against the Najib administration.

According to news reports in October last year, only one of four Malaysians – or 23 percent to be exact – approve of Najib’s government. This is sharply down by about half from nearly one out of two, or 48 percent, in June 2014. Tellingly, Malay support about halved too, hitting a low of 31 percent from 60 percent in June 2014.

The report said the survey was conducted among respondents in peninsular Malaysia in August last year, shortly after Najib dismissed Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for his critical stance on 1MDB.

This is the first time since the start of the Merdeka polls from early 2012 that Najib could not get majority support from the Malay community. If this lack of support from Malays translates into the next elections, then it is likely that the opposition will take power.

A counter-argument is that the opposition is in disarray and in no position to challenge the incumbents but one cannot discount that they will get their act together nearer to the polls and pull themselves into a stronger alliance.

For Umno, the immediate risk is whether they can afford to take that risk. While seeming support for Najib is strong there are shifting undercurrents of discontent. That “political donation” song routine does not wash with most Malaysians and likely Umno, too, although leaders keep singing it to guard and strengthen their position.

Such revelations in most countries would have seen the voluntary resignation of leaders and action taken against them, but Najib is clearly digging in with the removal of both the attorney-general and the deputy prime minister in almost simultaneous moves last August.

How long will Najib last?
29 Mar 2016
P Gunasegaram


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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

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