Najib doesn’t have the political will and personal strength to push through his transformation programmes.

JAN 27 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak was crowned the “Father of Moderation and Transformation” by the World Chinese Economic Forum (WCEF), which said the prime minister’s “fair and just leadership” had benefited the Chinese community “tremendously”. WCEF chairman Datuk Michael Yeoh said in his speech at the conferment ceremony today.

This was the major news item of the day. WCEF is a gathering of Chinese hongs and towkays eager to seek business favours from the PM. How does Michael Yeoh come by his assessment?

Among others, Yeoh praised Najib’s 1 Malaysia platform, his administration’s decision to increase allocation to Chinese schools and the introduction of tax exemptions for churches and temples, saying the initiatives were proof of the prime minister’s commitment to “fairness and justice”.

Fuyoh! I had to pinch myself. Never have I heard such outpouring of boot-licking averments which Michael sought to prove by stating the material I placed in italics above.

Let me steal the thunder from Michael’s shameless sycophantic offerings.

Two weeks ago, I sat down with Dr Richard Cockett, SEA correspondent for The Economist. Also present was Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of IDEAS. Richard posted the question to me as to whether Najib will succeed in his transformation ideas.

He will not succeed, I said. But let me say some nice things about Najib. Najib is a personable fellow and if you get close enough to him, you will have to be a black-hearted person NOT to like him. But that is as far as I can go. He is a nice and a personable fellow.

He has his heart at the right place, but as I wrote some time back, he is a political invertebrate. He doesn’t have the political will and personal strength to push through his programmes. I was ready to concede later that Najib, on account of his exterior rhetoric, may indeed have a backbone but still, I find difficulty to locate where on his anatomy.

Take the case of his New Economic Model. Nowadays we hardly hear about it. At the 2011 Umno General Assembly, Najib did not even mention it. Instead he devoted much of his speech sounding very combative and full of vehemence. What he has done was to actually retrograde to Umno cavemen politics. You disagree with us, we bash you in the heads with our swing sticks.

Ask yourself. How will Najib, for instance, push through his economic agenda? Answer: He will revert to the tested ways of selecting cronies, of giving direct negotiated projects masked by seemingly transparent methods to the chosen few. Those chosen few too will be recommended by the Man who can walk on water. He will continue with the patronage system instead of pushing his transforming ideas through.

The only transforming sensation that Najib will achieve is perhaps playing with his Transformers toys and watching the film starring Shia LaBeouf. His eyes will probably focus more on Megan Fox.

At the 2010 Umno General Assembly, for instance, all his big ideas were rejected and thwarted by Umno delegates, obviously mirroring the general objection to Najib’s adventurist ideas which were his alone and, most probably, scripted by expensively paid consultants. His idea of 1 Malaysia with the hazy notions of inclusiveness and outward readiness to “We must pool our collective talents in the interests of our nation so that together, we will win out.” Fulamak!

That to be read as: we must pakat pakat to swipe clean the country’s wealth and make hay while the sun shines. We will carry out the agenda of guatolonglu-lutolonggua win-win policies.

The delegates at that assembly immediately rejected Najib’s 1 Malaysia by insisting on Malay-first policies on everything. So what 1 Malaysia is Najib talking about?

His plans to transform the economy and especially that of the Malay economy through his NEM founded on the equally hazy notions of affirmative policies based on free market economics and affirmative policies based on merits were met with howls from delegates insisting on the continuation of NEP-like policies.

In the end, Najib could only muster his last trump card — to claim that after all he is the son of Tun Razak. That, no one can dispute. Genetically he is, but culturally, he isn’t. He doesn’t have the leadership qualities of Tun Razak.

How can he push his liberalist economic agenda through a mindset accustomed to patronage? Will the Umno warlords, who have only known survival through the patronage system of Umno, allow some anointed successor, albeit the son of Tun Razak, dismantle a system that has provided them with succour? That would be suicidal.

Najib will be sacrificed rather than allow a system that has spawn hordes of tenderpreneurs being replaced by an adventurist Najib Razak with a blasphemous idea.

In short, Najib faces a brick wall and he has nowhere to go. Either he faces the Umno firing squad or capitulate. At the 2011 Umno assembly, he has done that exactly — retreated shamelessly. That gutless and shameless position was effectively masked by his recalcitrant and combative rhetoric.

How will he push his transformation programmes through a sea of stubborn tenderpreneurs and obstinate rent-seekers?

So in answer to Richard Cockett, Najib can’t transform. He can only dream of becoming Optimus Prime. —

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