Feb 14, 2019
by Ahirul Ahirudin
IT was just another normal shopping evening yesterday at the Tesco Semenyih hypermarket until the arrival of a certain shopper – Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
What happened was, even prior to his arrival there, many locals and shoppers were already flooding the front entrance of the hypermarket after they learnt that the controversial former prime minister would be there after Maghrib prayers at dusk.
The second Najib arrived about 8.30pm and stepped out from his vehicle, the crowd swarmed around him with many shouting his now popular catchphrase ‘Malu apa bossku’.
I particularly noticed a family whose members were so excited that they aggressively tried to get a selfie with Najib.
It wouldn’t be surprising if clueless bystanders thought there was a rock star visiting town as that was exactly what it looked like at the hypermarket.
Indeed, Najib’s clout in social media and his presence on the ground of late makes one wonder if he is the same person who was slapped with 42 counts for graft and abuse of power and mercilessly vilified by his critics and political opponents .
Why is he so popular now?
According to some reports and observations such as yesterday, Najib is being lauded as a hero for his incessant critics and trolls against the current government that seem to hit the currency now – increasing dissatisfaction among many ordinary Malaysians.
What about the burden of corruption charges that he is carrying? I asked some of the locals that were present at the hypermarket yesterday and their responses were mostly the same.
A lady and her friend told me that they’ve always believed that a person shouldn’t be judged unless the court has decided.
“He was just charged, not yet convicted,” said the lady. Her opinion was echoed by many there.
A man, who was with his family there told me that he was supportive of Najib not because of what he had done, but because what he is doing, that was being an effective opposition and hitting the government where they went wrong.
How influential will Najib be in this coming by-election in Semenyih is still unclear, but, if what happened in Cameron Highlands is anything to go by, his presence this time would definitely be a problem to Pakatan Harapan’s effort to retain the state seat.
What can be seen this time round is that, the supporters of Najib not only consist of older folks loyal to BN, but also younger people unhappy with the current administration as well as some, who just hopped on the bandwagon because of Najib’s increasing popularity among young Malaysians.
Despite that, it was reported yesterday that Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa was quick to downplay Najib’s newfound fame, saying the trend does not automatically translate into popularity at the ballots.
Annuar also insisted that Umno has nothing to do with Najib’s programmes, but conceded that the party’s former president’s exploits on social media has indirectly helped the party such as during the Cameron Highlands by-election.