Why did Najib Razak lose the Malaysian general election in 2018 given that Malaysia enjoyed the strong economic growth when he was the prime minister?

 I had a long conversation with an UMNO politician a few weeks before the fated GE14. He was a fanatical Najib supporter and I did see him working really really hard to help Najib and his party to win the election. He was a mere grass root politician earning less than USD1000 a month doing odd jobs, and from my observation he deserved more than he got considering his dedication and hard work he put for his party.

There are many people like him in UMNO where they work for the betterment of the people and serves as a go to person for almost everything you can think of be it from arranging funerals, visiting and giving assistance to the sick, organizing events to cutting grass by the roadside..and they do all that for free. To tell the truth I could even see genuine smiles on their faces knowing that they did their part for their communities and their party.

However during our long conversation , for the first time I heard him saying something that I would never have heard from him ie. he had wished that Najib should have resigned as PM and as UMNO president a year before the GE when the 1MDB scandal was too big to hide anymore. He lamented that despite all the things they had done for the party at the grassroot level, they simply had no answer to questions relating to 1MDB posed by the voters. He noted that while most of the voters were particularly satisfied with what BN/ UMNO had done for them, most felt that they were treated like idiots by Najib and his cabinet for trying to cover up something that was so obvious like the 1MDB scandal. The funny thing was that most of the voters were in fact willing to forgive him and to continue voting for the BN coalition as long as he owns up to his mistake and apologize…but he unfortunately failed to do that.

There were many other issues which contributed to his loss such as the spiraling cost of living, erratic petrol pricing policy, his racist remarks especially against the ethnic Chinese while being super accommodating to China and of course the rumors about his wife spending lavishly overseas. Voters actually don't care about the fancy figures like the GDP or annual economic growth etc, what matters to them is the situation at hand. For them quoting encouraging figures on TV etc when the real economy feels like the opposite simply reinforced their belief that again Najib and the gang were treating them like idiots. In all I conclude that in the end it's not about 1MDB or the economy or the GST etc…it's about Najib underestimating the influence of social media and the ability of the voters to pick up a more logical and believeable narrative presented by the PH coalition over his own.

This pic was taken just weeks before the GE when Najib was visiting a rural parliamentary area in Pahang. The rural Malays are known for their undying respect for their leaders especially in public however flawed they may be. In normal circumstances they would have gotten out of the river to greet Najib out of respect to his position as the PM. However this time Najib himself had to go down to the riverbank, leaving his designated tent to greet them himself…being polite however, most still didn't have the heart to totally ignore him and came over to shake his hand. It was the Malay way of showing their dissatisfaction and anger. By then Najib was supposed to be able to read the signs already..but he didn't.


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