Will BN ever change? That seems to be the question asked by political observers, men, women and thinking beings on the street
pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THERE is not a single dull day in Malaysia. And you don’t need a dose of comedy to feel alive. Talks about perpertrators of a sex video, testimony that Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak (picture) spent RM3.3 million using a credit card and a Swiss luxury jeweller in Italy named De Grisogono continue to dominate local news.
It was also revealed, according to Najib himself, that the spending was for a gift to royalty. One wonders how many royalties are there around the world. But all these claims will be judged in earthshaking court.
No less earthshaking was the storm created after Najib’s appointment as chairman of the Barisan Nasional (BN) advisory board — the coalition that was ousted after six decades of rule and under his claws.
But will BN ever change? That seems to be the question asked by political observers, men, women and thinking beings on the street.
There were hints by Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the additional member of the board — but many could not have fathomed that Najib would take up the post considering the mountain of legal charges he is facing.
Najib, perhaps unsurprisingly, found himself the target of his critics. The outspoken Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz described the appointment as “regressive”, and that the decision was not made in the party’s interest.
Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, who was once touted as the agent of BN’s rejuvenation, had even gone as far as asking Umno leaders to not use the party as a “personal shield”.
“Do not use the party as a personal shield because those in the lower rung are innocent. Millions of Umno members are innocent,” he was reported as saying.
The tit-for-tat exchanges continue between Nazri, Khairy and Najib.
Najib defended his appointment by stating that it was done to strengthen BN and its component parties, which has shrunk to just three parties.
The appointment begs several questions. The one question on the lips of many — isn’t there anyone else who can advise BN?
Is the party so desperate as to let a man facing 42 charges be their saviour? The answer is quite clear for BN: No one can command such popularity or respect in a coalition that is deeply feudalistic in nature.
Some Umno and BN members have stated that post-May 9 last year, Najib was the only party leader who took the initiative to speak out against Pakatan Harapan’s policies — the only leader who took to social media to connect and communicate with the masses on almost a daily basis.
Right or wrong, Najib even managed to ride on the “Bossku” campaign — when the party president was on self-imposed garden leave.
There was a theory that Najib and Ahmad Zahid’s combination was necessary to utilise Umno’s assets to prepare for the next general election.
The duo, according to a BN leader, is vital to ensure that grassroot support remains strong, in case its current strategic partner, PAS, turns its back on its newly found “partner”.
Sure, there were talks of reviving BN to make it appealing to youths and that includes reducing the warlords’ control in BN. But such wishful thinking is as far-fetched as expecting the government to legitimise ketum.
There was even a suggestion to remove all race-based component parties and allow the coalition to become multiracial. But members argued that the coalition is in a state of flux with no clear direction from the top.
“At the end of the day, I think some of them feel it’s better to stick with the devil you know,” a BN member said. “It is frustrating, but who else?”
And that is the sad reality that Umno and BN members have to face: The old guards will continue to have their reign, while on the other hand, a coalition led by a 94-year-old is pushing for those above 18 to vote. In Malaysia-land, some things just don’t change, idiotic though it may be.
Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.