Every good superhero has a weakness – Superman has kryptonite, and Batman has Joel Schumacher. So by extension, if PM Najib was a superhero, his weakness would be art supplies. This isn’t some random joke we came up with too, because PM Najib was ACTUALLY depicted as a comic book superhero once upon a time:
Unfortunately, this was PM Najib’s only time being depicted as a superhero in his comic book career, because he’s since been gaining more traction as comic relief in works by local artists such Fahmi Reza (the clownface Najib guy) and Zunar…
And recently, his “popularity” as a comic character has gone beyond Malaysian borders as PM Najib was lampooned by Burmese artist Kyaw Thu Yein in The Irrawaddy – a Burmese publication. Titled “Najib Razak’s Stunt“, he’s depicted juggling balls spelling STOP GENOCIDE on a tightrope while carrying a bag labeled “Corruption”:
But whyyyyyyyy? Why these Burmese fellas suddenly come cari pasal with Malaysia??! Y they go mock our Prime Minister????!! #RespectMyPM #StayStrongNajib
It’s actually because PM Najib cucuk Myanmar over the Rohingya issue
The issue with Rohingya refugees probably needs no introduction by this point, but if you’ve been stuck on a boat for the past year here’s a quick intro:
The Rohingya are Muslims who predominantly migrated to the Rakhine state in Myanmar during the British colonization in the 1800’s, though there are some Rohingya whose ancestors have been there for a few hundred years. After Myanmar gained independence, the Buddhist-majority country refused to grant the Rohingya citizenship, effectively leaving them stateless. Not just that, there have been accusations that the Rohingya (along with Christian minority groups) have been subject to violence amounting to genocide – which the Burmese government officially denies. Many Rohingya who resorted to seeking asylum in other countries (including Malaysia) by boat have been turned away or become victims of human trafficking.
So when a KL rally protesting the treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar was scheduled on December 4th, PM Najib said that he would be attending, prompting a warning from the Myanmar government against interfering in their internal affairs. But like a true superhero on the side of justice, human rights, and righteousness; PM Najib attended anyway – standing up for the downtrodden and forgotten like the true superhero that he is.
But it wasn’t just the fact he was attending that ticked off the Myanmar government, it was also the statements he made during a speech to the crowd:
“They [Myanmar government] warned me, but I don’t care, because I am here in my capacity as representative of the community and the people of Malaysia … What do they want me to do as head of government of 31 million people? Want me to close my eyes? Keep my mouth shut? I will not. We must defend them [Rohingyas], not just because they are of the same faith, but they are humans, their lives have value.” – PM Najib, as quoted by The Straits Times.
This move prompted many responses from the international community (which we’ll cover later in this article), and that includes the comic published by the Irrawaddy.
But this isn’t the first time PM Najib has been made fun of in comic form because in May last year, a cartoon was published by Thai newspaper The Nation, that:
- Mocked the police for the mass graves found on the Thai-Malaysia border
- Tembak our Visit Malaysia campaign by satirizing our slogans into Malaysia – Truly Embarrassed and Don’t Visit Malaysia 2015 – If you’re a Rohingya
- A drawing of PM Najib acknowledging that the cartoon would kena sedition
It’s quite fitting for that sedition jab to be included because…
Luckily these fellas aren’t Malaysian otherwise they kena 10 sedition charges
Okaylah, we exaggerated a bit in that header because Zunar, who’s also the person holding the dubious honor of being the most seditioned man in Malaysia is currently facing trial for only NINE sedition charges amounting to a maximum of 43 years in prison and RM45,000 in fines. This doesn’t include his November 2016 arrest under the Sedition Act and Penal Code for insulting the Prime Minister.
Similarly, clown face Najib artist Fahmi Reza was also arrested under the Sedition Act during the KL Alternative Bookfest in Publika in June, and had his merchandise confiscated. He wasn’t charged for this, which kinda helps because he was already facing a charge under the Communications and Multimedia Act for his original clown face Najib post.
The arrests of Zunar and Fahmi has earned the criticism of various human- and artist-rights groups around the world, but it would be notable to point out how these artists reacted to the arrests. When IGP Khalid suggested that Zunar stick to drawing Donald Duck instead of insulting our leaders, Zunar thanked the IGP for the inspiration and came up with Donald Dedak:
Similarly despite being released at 3am and having all his merchandise confiscated, Fahmi Reza went back to Publika the next day and sat at his empty stall with a framed picture of clown Najib. But what the true sign of massive telurs was actually at his CMA trial, where he showed up in court… with a framed picture of clown Najib.
So now that we’ve got all this covered, there’s only one more question left….
Why did PM Najib cucuk hidung in other people’s business?
“We are really disappointed by his actions. It seems like he was using religion as a stepping stone to garner popular support for the upcoming elections.” – U Zaw Htay, Myanmar President’s Office Spokesperson, as quoted by The Irrawaddy.
The Myanmar government isn’t alone in this opinion as many political analysts have stated that PM Najib “is simply using the Rohingya as a tool” to bolster his popularity in light of the alleged scandals he’s facing, especially with the elections expected to take place in 2017.
First off, we have to clarify that there’s nothing wrong with protesting for the plight of the Rohingya if you feel strongly about the issue. The problem here is that PM Najib isn’t a ordinary member of the public – he’s the Prime Minister that represents the voice of the party, government, and the people, so what he says carries a lot more weight. As a really bad example, President Obama saying that PM Najib is guilty of corruption (example, k?) has much stronger implications than Carl Nyberbalsen saying the same thing. Who’s Carl Nyberbalsen? Exactly.
The second reason is that governments really don’t like it when other governments start meddling in their affairs, and they will react when that happens. For an example of this, we don’t have to look any further than… PM Najib himself.
“We should not invite foreigners to interfere in our affairs. Let the internal affairs of the country be decided by the people themselves” – PM Najib, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.
Similar sentiments were made by some other ministers such as Azalina Othman, when she told off the Australian Bar Association for commenting on some changes to the Malaysian Legal Profession Act, saying:
“All parties must uphold the principles of non-intervention in another country’s affairs, – Azalina Othman, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.
Funny enough, these were the same reasons the Myanmar government used when warning PM Najib, adding that it also went against ASEAN’s principles of non-intervention. This actually brings about some pretty big long-term consequences that you can read about here but, even the past few days alone, we’ve had Myanmar officially suspend sending of their workers into Malaysia while the Rohingya who are already here in Malaysia are now asking to be allowed to work and attend school.
But ultimately, many are wondering why PM Najib is so vocal about the issues in neighboring countries when there are similar issues happening in his home country; such with the suppression of freedom of speech and assembly, or even the Temiar Orang Asli in Kelantan who are being chased off their land (sound familiar?).
We’ll end this article with a response from UN Representative Maina Kiai:
“I am really happy to see Malaysian government take up Rohingya issues. That is a great thing to do, but [They should] have the same concern for discrimination in Malaysia. For election reforms in Malaysia.
We don’t want Malaysians to go on the streets, but after they are done, we then hear them being summoned, jailed, held under terrorism charges.” – Maina Kiai, UN Representative, as quoted by The Malay Mail Online.