Commentary Politics

Azmin attacks Najib but gets one back

Rashid -- a vice-president of Pribumi Bersatu who's heading a committee that is expected to think and decide independently.

Written by Aziz Hassan

February 22, 2019.

Recollections & Reflections – A commentary

STRANGE things do happen but perhaps more often in Malaysian politics than elsewhere and the amazing thing is that those who indulge get away with it with impunity. And so it continues….

The run-up to the Semenyih by-election on March 2 is no exception.

Just as for the Cameron Highlands by-election a few weeks ago, former prime minister/Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been actively helping out the Barisan Nasional campaign, almost all the time on his own, minus the entourage usually seen following the tailcoat of VIPs with power. The coalition he once led too has never made any references to his role or contributions, maybe to cut out negative reaction or perception given that Najib is facing 47 charges in court.

That Najib’s presence was said to be a big boost that helped BN win Cameron Highlands was acknowledged by many commentators, with his social media following in the millions said to be one contributing factor.

Just like in Cameron Highlands, Najib isn’t a candidate in Semenyih but he has found himself a target of much offensive bordering on vitriol that has also unfairly dragged in his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, with the main antagonist being minister and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Amin Ali.

The BN candidate, for your information, is one Zakaria Hanafi, who used to be an assistant administrative officer at a local university.

What Azmin has done gives the impression that Pakatan Harapan does consider Najib an influence but the part about Rosmah has only provided a chance for Najib to hit back, picking on a point about Azmin’s wife from the late 90s when Azmin was working with then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Whatever for, this pre-occupation with Najib, who in today’s politics he remains only a Member of Parliament for Pekan.

The other political story that initially was a bit confusing concerned the purported “no support” decision for BN in Semenyih by PAS, which cooperated strongly in Cameron Highlands. This decision was milked to the hilt by Prime Minister and Pakatan chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, only for news reports and information on social media proving that indeed BN and PAS were still working together.

PAS and its ambiguity

What made the situation more mumble-jumble was the ambiguous and convoluted statement from PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, who spoke of a “sample” of a letter of support for Mahathir, which the latter expectedly also used to add to the confusion although several PAS leaders insisted that the cooperation with Umno was still in place.

What the support from PAS for Mahathir is only one specific against any attempt to oust him as PM via a vote of no confidence. Why PAS is doing this we outsiders can never be absolutely certain of but you also suspect there is more to this than merely a simple contempt for the DAP because PAS and Mahathir had never been known to be cuddly buddies.

We also have this statement from a former senior Election Commission official who is now a card-carrying member of a political party trying his utmost to convince people that he remains independent and will do his job without being influenced by his political inclinations.

Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman was in the EC for a long time, from secretary to eventually being its chairman. He joined Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia a few years ago and is now one of its vice-presidents.

Following the Pakatan Harapan victory in last May’s general elections, Rashid was appointed by Mahathir to head the Electoral Reforms Committee.

What led Rashid to be the subject of strong criticisms was when he stated at his party’s convention late December that he was all for the government to dish out projects to party leaders who can then use the money made to fund activities and ensure victory by hook or by crook at the next elections. Gosh, what would Malaysians not with his party make out of this?

Rashid may do a good job with his committee but his statement on the projects and the fact that he is a member of a political party make him to be perceived as not being neutral or independent.

The right thing for him to do is to quit from chairing the committee. There is no other option, but that is if he cares about his image and integrity.

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About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.