In a blink of an eye, Christmas has come and gone, and now there’s only a few days of 2017 left. But fret not gentle readers, there’s still the New Year’s Eve, and also plenty to look forward to next year, namely Chinese New Year and … our 14th General Election! *Woooooo*
In anticipation of GE14, and maybe the “new year, new me” tradition, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s official website recently got a face lift! To be honest, we don’t know what the old website design looked like, but the new one totally has that crisp modern minimalist feel to it. Very modern ah!
Don’t worry, there are no campaign promises or manifesto on the website (not for this year at least). Besides serving as a blog, the website also has some statistics about Malaysia’s economic and social situation, sort of a boasting of the accomplishments of the current PM’s administration, but in the form of info-graphs.
But most surprisingly, is that there is a entire section called “The Truth“, which is dedicated to answering 22 “questions and issues that have been raised by certain parties with malicious political agenda”. These include big issues like 1MDB and Altantuya! Forgot what Najib’s official stance on these controversial issues were? Well wonder no more, as you can find Najib’s first person comments on those issues right here!
1. Najib talks about 1MDB and Altantuya, but only acknowledges sources in Malaysia
Obviously, the biggest elephant in the room here is the 1MDB scandal. Previously, the first ever investigation by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Attorney General (AG) discovered no evidence to indicate wrongdoing or abuse of power, and the AG also said that there won’t be any need to re-open the case. But as we wrote recently, the AG instructed the reopening of the 1MDB case, because he wasn’t satisfied with 25% to 35% of the report.
Najib’s stance reflects what’s currently transpiring with 1MDB in Malaysia, which is basically waiting for the second investigation report from the AG.
“It is unfair for certain politicians to convict the government in the court of public opinion way before the actual facts are laid down by lawful authorities, namely the Auditor-General and the bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC).” – quoted from NajibRazak.com
On the other hand, the Altantuya case was closed in 2015, but it was no ordinary trial, as the entire case took about 9 years to come to a close. Throughout the court proceedings, people kept changing their stories, and some even mysteriously disappeared for awhile before showing up again later. Najib says that the case has been closed, the murderers have been charged, and even former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself has verified Najib’s innocence.
“… this case has been tried in the courts, with a clear verdict and punishment meted out. Are they disputing the very judicial system that they put in place?” – NajibRazak.com
But for those who follow the saga of these issues, some glaring points weren’t addressed. It’s not only the local opposition parties and online 3rd party websites that are accusing 1MDB of crime, its also several of the U.S Department of Justice’s charges, and more than a few other countries that have also started probes and even convicted people related to the case.
As for the Altantuya case, the accusations and evidence brought forward by international news portal Al Jazeera years after the case closed have not been addressed by the courts. Not to mention, one of the convicted murderer now still lives in Australia, and seeking a royal pardon in 2016.
2. Najib answered some questions most of us didn’t think to ask
Najib was pretty forthcoming with the issues that he tackled, some of these weren’t even hot topics on the news. The most well known probably is the “new” government jet purchase more than 2 years ago, and it might have just slipped under 2017’s radar if it wasn’t brought up here.
Back then, the opposition criticised the gomen for overpaying for an already unnecessarily jet. But Najib said the opposition concealed the fact that the purchase was made to replace an already 16 year old plane that was becoming an expensive safety hazard.
“The cost of maintaining an old aircraft is high. Hence, the older aircraft is being disposed of and the money the government makes from its sale will clearly reduce the cost paid for the new aircraft.” – quoted from NajibRazak.com
Najib also revealed that the plane is also shared with the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, so there should be no chances taken on its safety and security. However, he did not address the accusation of overpaying, or whether or not it was legal for Prime Ministers to take the jet for a vacation.
Najib also addressed criticism that the idea of 1Malaysia is just like “Malaysian Malaysia“, a concept famously associated to Lee Kuan Yew when Singapore was part of us. Malaysian Malaysia was used to oppose Article 153 in the Constitution of Malaysia, which gives special quotas to the Malay and native folks. If they were indeed the same, Najib argued that we would not currently have TERAJU or other initiatives like it that focus on helping bumiputeras.
Najib also quash rumors that the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA) raised crime rates. He said that Malaysia’s crime rates have actually dropped by 12.6%, while violent crimes have fall by 13.4%. So to whoever saying this, present your counter arguments or forever hold your peace. We would look it up but crime statistics are under the Official Secrets Act.
3. Najib thinks we’ve been focusing too much on the bad news
With so much suspect websites, third party news portals and attacks from veteran politicians, Najib thinks that the public might be severely misinformed, as those are not legitimate sources and might have hidden agendas. For example, there are sites that claim that Malaysia is one of the top most corrupted countries in the world! But the truth is, we’re ranked somewhere around 50 out of 176 countries according to Transparency International.
Some claim that the GST is a gomen plot to collect money to bail out failed government projects. But Najib says the total net profit of government linked companies (GLCs) increased from RM9.9 billion to RM26.2 billion from 2004 to 2015. The Malaysia’s GLC 20 even made better returns for shareholders (12.6%) than the KL stock market (12.2%) did from 2004 to 2015, so how could failed projects have such stellar results??
The PM reveals that there were many improvements that were brought to Malaysians, and we might have ignored them in light of all the twisted news going around. You can visit some of the statistics compiled on the website here, but some are missing context and comparisons, so we don’t really know how good (or bad) the numbers really are. For example, 241,255 units of affordable houses were built as of April 2017, but with no mention of the 2016 numbers or from which time frame it was compared to.
4. Pak Lah is still constantly used as a measure of how bad things were
This isn’t really related to anything of the issues we talked about, just a general observation we had reading through the points. The performance of PM Najib is constantly being compared to his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, which would be normal if not for the fact that its always phrased in a negative way:
“Claim: Najib did worse as UMNO President compared to Pak Lah”
“Claim: So what is wrong with asking the current PM to step down. He has obviously made a bigger mess of the country than the previous PM.“
Poor Pak Lah, why isn’t it ever “Pak Lah did a much better job as UMNO President“, or “Pak Lah obviously did a better job than the current PM“? As Najib has might have taught us in his website, we mustn’t always only look at the negative side of an issue, so you can read all about Pak Lah’s good stuff here!
5. But Najib was talking mostly about the ex-PM, Tun Dr. Mahathir
Najib only mentions a few person by name. But with regard to the opposition, Tun Dr. Mahathir was the only opposition member Najib mentioned by name, and there’s even an entire section dedicated to the accusations of Tun Dr. Mahathir. But even so, Tun Mahathir was mentioned 23 times in various points and issues by our count. We generated a word cloud with the text and it looked like this:
We also did a word count on the issues being talked about, here’s how each issue ranked:
- Tun Mahathir : 1493 words, 23 mentions
- GST: 942 words, 24 mentions
- 1MDB: 606 words, 14 mentions
- BR1M: 560 words, 13 mentions
- Altantuya: 549 words, 2 mentions
- Jet: 220 words, 11 mentions
Indeed, Tun Mahathir has been very vocal against the government about various issues in the past few years, but so have many other in the opposition parties. So why is the PM so obsessed with the ex-PM? Maybe partly due to admiration and/or fear, Najib explains why he sees the need to personally address these allegations:
“He can say he is simply exercising his democratic rights as a citizen, but this is Tun Mahathir. People tend to believe whatever he says, even if it is not entirely accurate. It has a significant effect on public perception, as he is not just any ordinary citizen.”
It’s great that Najib addressed the issues, but were all the questions answered?
Presenting a written record of the Prime Minister’s statements on these issues is no doubt a step towards transparency and accountability. At least now, we are certain that our Prime Minister acknowledges these concerns, and wants to communicate the responsibility for resolving these national issues that linger on the minds of the public.
However, we can’t help but notice the things that were left unaddressed, like why 1MDB paid Abu Dhabi despite insisting there’s no wrongdoing, or the overspending of the jet plane, which makes the answers given appear not entirely convincing. Perhaps as the next step, the Prime Minister could make it so that results and evidences of an investigation are open and accessible to scrutiny and review to relevant parties, and let them see for themselves the great work the authorities have put into uncovering the truth.