Perkasa complements Umno, say MPs – By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

Ibrahim (right) kisses a kris at Perkasa’s inaugural congress which was opened by Dr Mahathir on March 27, 2010. — File pic

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 05-Apr-2010 — Umno lawmakers said today Perkasa complements the ruling Malay political party and should not be seen as a threat.

A recent survey by independent pollster Merdeka Center showed that right-wing group has gained popularity in the Malay community, with nearly 70 per cent of Malay voters in Peninsular Malaysia agreeing with Perkasa’s demands that the government should not dismantle quotas and economic protection for the Malays.

The survey also suggested that Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak would face substantial obstacles in pushing through his reforms.

Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin believes Perkasa and Umno can work together.

“I think it is the awakening of the community to express themselves. This is because they may feel that there are outside groups that are pressuring the royal institution and Islam. So this is not pressure to other races but to protect the rights of Malays.

“Perkasa is not a party but an NGO. It is not a threat. Umno and Perkasa can work together,” he told reporters in Parliament.

Sri Gading MP Datuk Mohamad Aziz said Perkasa complements Umno.

“Those who support Umno will continue to support Umno but those who support Perkasa because they want to defend their race. Even though Umno defends the community, it does not forego its responsibility to Malaysian society and the interests of other communities.

“Perkasa is specifically for Malay interests, special rights of the Malays, Malay Sultans, Bahasa Melayu and these policies are supported by the community. They will not become a threat to Umno. Malays who support Perkasa will not leave Umno,” he said.

Pontian MP Datuk Ahmad Maslan stressed that Perkasa should not be labelled as a threat to Umno.

“I never assume Perkasa as a threat at all because Umno has been here since 1946. Perkasa is only a ‘few days’ so Umno’s contribution has been rooted in society.

“Therefore every community has benefited directly or indirectly from Umno’s leaders who are also the nation’s leaders. So I do not see them as a threat but what is the threat? I have always been fighting for the country, race and religion. There is no threat at all,” said the Umno information chief.

Perkasa is positioning itself as a pressure group to the government especially on the continuation of preferential treatment for the Malays under the Najib administration’s NEM.

Perkasa’s inaugural congress last Sunday was launched by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who once made its leader Datuk Ibrahim Ali a deputy minister of law in his 22-year administration.

The Malay right-wing group has spread to all states since the independent MP founded it two years ago. It counts many Umno stalwarts among its pro-tem committee officials and has protested the Najib administration’s move to open up the economy and reform affirmative action policies.

Perkasa has warned political parties, especially Umno, not to be “enemies” with the movement if it wants support in the next general election.

However, Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz dismissed Perkasa’s importance and took a jab at Ibrahim.

“It is not a political body, it is something which entertains matters affecting the Malays. But at the end of the day, the government will decide everything. I don’t think Perkasa will win if they contest in the general election. They (Ibrahim Ali) even used the PAS ticket to win,” he said.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department has slammed Perkasa as a political opportunist after the group claimed that the proposed Equal Opportunity Commission is against the country’s constitution.

Najib’s Approval Rating Moves Upwards To 68 Per Cent

Bernama.com | KUALA LUMPUR, 02-Apr-2010 — The proportion of Malaysians satisfied with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s performance as the Prime Minister stands at 68 per cent after 12 months in office as the sixth premier, reports The Malaysian Insider quoting the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research survey.

His approval rating was a dismal 44 per cent when he took over as the economy was slipping into unforgiving negative territory, and he seemed vulnerable as he was pelted by bad news everywhere he turned.

This was contained in a summary of the survey, which polled 883 registered voters in West Malaysia between March 11 and 27, with the questions touching on the direction of the country, public satisfaction with the prime minister, and perception on some of his key initiatives, which was obtained by The Malaysian Insider and was posted on the news portal Friday.

The latest rating was the highest since the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research began tracking his approval ratings in April 2009, the month he succeeded Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya, it said.

The pollster noted that since June 2009, satisfaction levels regarding Najib’s performance as premier has hovered in the 65 per cent range, plummeting sharply once to 56 percent in September last year, in the wake of the cow head protest by mainly Umno members against the construction of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam and the death of DAP aide, Teoh Beng Hock, while in custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

In the latest survey, 68 per cent of the respondents said that they were satisfied with the prime minister’s performance.

This upward trend occurred despite issues that erupted recently, such as the “Allah” controversy and subsequent attacks on places of worship.

According to the survey, Najib’s improved rating was also the result of a recuperating economy, along with an opposition which has been troubled by defections and infighting.

Some 74 percent of Malays polled were satisfied with Najib’s performance, while 77 per cent of Indians fell into the same category, indicating perhaps that the minority community has been won over by the PM’s symbolic gestures, including visiting Batu Caves during Thaipusam and his pledge to uplift the economic status of the Indian community.

Najib has in the last 12 months bypassed the MIC and gone directly to Indian NGOs and the community on a charm offensive.

But the survey showed that Najib and the Barisan Nasional have yet to win over the Chinese.

Slightly over 50 percent of the Malaysian Chinese polled gave him the thumbs up. The community has been the target of attacks by Perkasa, a Malay NGO, and right-wing elements in Umno who have tried to picture the Chinese as a threat to Malay political dominance.

Sixty-six per cent of Chinese polled held negative sentiments towards Umno.

In the summary of the survey, Ibrahim Suffian of the Merdeka Center cautioned that a high approval rating should not be misconstrued as electoral support, but rather agreement with the intentions and stated policies of the PM.

For example, he noted that although 74 per cent of Malays were satisfied with Najib’s first year in office, based on the “right versus wrong track question” (a proxy for ballot type of question), the Merdeka Center estimates that between 55 and 57 per cent of the Malay electorate would vote for Barisan Nasional.

Among the other key findings of the survey are:

* More Malaysians placed their trust in Najib (31 per cent) than in Umno (22 per cent). Of all the major races, Indians placed the highest trust in Najib (51 per cent) compared with Umno (13 per cent) while the Chinese believed in the PM (46 percent) rather than the ruling party (6 per cent).

* Some 61 per cent of Malaysians polled do not agree with the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST). The administration recently announced that it was delaying the introduction of the GST to obtain more feedback from the public but the opposition dismissed the explanation, pointing that the government’s flip-flop was the result of fear of a voter backlash.

* Just under 60 per cent of Malaysians surveyed do not support the removal of subsidies.

* Most Malaysians view Najib as approachable (80 per cent).

Ibrahim noted that though the findings of the survey indicated that Najib was in a stronger position than 12 months ago, there were a couple of provisos.

“Translating this approval into electoral support, however, requires delivering tangible proof that the steps taken are working and that the nation is on its way towards reaching the goals spelt out by the PM,” he noted in the summary.

The Malaysian public expect Najib to deliver on his promises as soon as possible, preferably within the next one or two years.

— BERNAMA

Najib approval rating climbs to 68pc

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 02-Apr-2010 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak is in a stronger position today than he was 12 months ago, when he was appointed Malaysia’s sixth prime minister, a recent survey has shown.

Then, his approval rating was a dismal 44 per cent; the economy was slipping into unforgiving negative territory, and he seemed vulnerable as he was pelted by bad news everywhere he turned.

Today, the proportion of Malaysians satisfied with his performance as the PM stands at 68 per cent, the highest it has been since the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research began tracking his approval ratings in April 2009, the month he replaced Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya.

Merdeka Center polled 883 registered voters in West Malaysia between March 11 and March 27, and the questions covered the direction of the country, public satisfaction with the prime minister, and perception of some of his key initiatives.

A summary of the survey was obtained by The Malaysian Insider.

The pollster noted that, since June 2009, satisfaction levels with Najib’s performance as premier has hovered in the 65 per cent range, plummeting sharply once to 56 per cent in September last year, in the wake of the cow head protest by mainly Umno members against the construction of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam and the death of DAP aide, Teoh Beng Hock, while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

In the latest survey, 68 per cent of the respondents said that they were satisfied with the prime minister’s performance. This upward trend occurred despite issues that erupted recently, such as the “Allah” controversy and subsequent attacks on places of worship.

Najib’s improved numbers is also the result of a recuperating economy, along with an opposition which has been troubled by defections and infighting.

Some 74 per cent of Malays polled were satisfied with Najib’s performance, while 77 per cent of Indians fell into the same category, indicating perhaps that the minority community has been won over by the PM’s symbolic gestures, including visiting Batu Caves during Thaipusam and his pledge to uplift the economic status of Indians.

On the back of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) campaign, the detention of its leaders, and general disenchantment with the MIC, Indians deserted the Barisan Nasional in Election 2008.

Najib has in the last 12 months bypassed the MIC and gone directly to Indian NGOs and the community on a charm offensive. But the survey showed that Najib and the Barisan Nasional have yet to win over the Chinese.

Slightly over 50 per cent of Malaysian Chinese polled gave him the thumbs up. The community has been the target of attacks by Perkasa, a Malay NGO, and right-wing elements in Umno who have tried to picture the Chinese as a threat to Malay political dominance. Sixty-six per cent of Chinese polled held negative sentiments towards Umno.

In the summary of the survey, Ibrahim Suffian of Merdeka Center cautioned that a high approval rating should not be misconstrued as electoral support, but rather agreement with the intentions and stated policies of the PM.

For example, he noted that though 74 per cent of Malays were satisfied with Najib’s first year in office, based on the “right versus wrong track question’’ (a proxy for ballot type of question), Merdeka Center estimates that between 55 and 57 per cent of the Malay electorate would vote for Barisan Nasional.

Among the other key findings of the survey are:

More Malaysians placed their trust in Najib (31 per cent) than in Umno (22 per cent). Of all the major races, Indians placed the highest trust in Najib (51 per cent) compared with Umno (13 per cent) while the Chinese believed in the PM (46 per cent) rather than the ruling party (6 per cent).
Some 61 per cent of Malaysians polled do not agree with the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST). The administration recently announced that it was delaying the introduction of the GST to obtain more feedback from the public but the opposition dismissed the explanation, pointing that the government’s flip-flop was the result of fear of a voter backlash.
Just under 60 per cent of Malaysians surveyed do not support the removal of subsidies.
Most Malaysians view Najib as approachable (80 per cent).
Ibrahim noted that though the findings of the survey indicated that Najib was in a stronger position than 12 months ago, there were a couple of provisos.

“Translating this approval into electoral support, however, requires delivering tangible proof that the steps taken are working and that the nation is on its way towards reaching the goals spelt out by the PM,” he noted in the summary.

The Malaysian public expect Najib to deliver on his promises as soon as possible, preferably within the next one or two years.

The Najib administration has unveiled its ambitious government transformation programme. And the main planks of the programme are reducing crime and corruption, two areas which the public have found the government’s commitment wanting.

In addition to the government transformation programme, the PM also outlined the main features of the New Economic Model and has promised to make public the timeframe for implementing the new model.

Tee Keat claims he is now the favourite – By Clara Chooi

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 26-Mar-2010 —With just two days left in the campaign, incumbent MCA presidential candidate Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat is claiming that the balance of support has tipped in his favour, undermining speculation that he is the underdog in the presidential race.

When asked if he felt that he was no longer the underdog, or the weakest candidate of the three presidential hopefuls, Tee Keat said: “Certainly, I am not!”

He acknowledged that certain online opinion polls, like the independent Merdeka Center, had reflected this and said the results should not be taken lightly.

The Merdeka Center polls showed that Tee Keat was the preferred choice for president above his two contenders with 30 per cent of the votes going to him.

Former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting came in second with 15 per cent support while former deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek came in last with just 12 per cent.

“This is a sign of the level of support and acceptance [of me] from the people,” said Tee Keat in a press conference at the MCA headquarters here this afternoon.

He added that people were now getting a clearer picture of past events including last year’s infamous Oct 10 extraordinary general meeting.

“Currently, I must say that the mood is upbeat and such a mood cannot be fabricated because it comes from the people.

“Do not forget that people now read more than one newspaper and often solicit for news through other means like online sources,” he said.

Tee Keat’s confidence seems to suggest that the outcome of this Sunday’s polls may just go against the general sentiment that the leader was likely to lose his grasp on his president post, which he held for a mere year and a half.

According to the embattled leader, the “underdog spin” was merely a tool used by his opponents to win votes in their favour and he expressed regret that it had even gone to the extent of rumours spread that he may bow out from the race.

“In the past few days, my grassroots have been giving me feedback that both my worthy opponents seem to have resorted to the same strategy… perhaps this is the common modus operandi of the MCA… to say that I am the underdog.

“They are telling the candidates not to waste their votes and that (since I am the underdog) they might as well switch their allegiances to them (my opponents),” he said.

Tee Keat however claimed that he had his pulse on the ground sentiment, which he said was presently swinging to his favour.

“My immediate response is that I know how the ground feels at this juncture and I know the kind of momentum that we are riding on,” he said.

He scoffed at his opponents’ purported manoeuvre, pointing out that if they were so confident of having a large pool of “solid votes”, why would they feel the need to woo his supporters.

“Their intention is pretty clear… They want to top up the number of votes polled in their favour. In this case, all three of us have our solid votes and what is bewildering is why they must be so shaky as to woo my supporters with such a message,” he said.

Tee Keat added that he had always been consistent in his message of change and had always focussed on reaching out to the grassroots by telling the truth.

“We talk about what we can do for the party and I have chosen not to hurt anybody,” he said.

Despite this, Tee Keat maintained that his will would not crumble and that he would remain persistent and campaign to the very end.

“I remain focussed and undeterred by spins of any kind simply because a spin cannot be translated into the truth.

“For your information, during my walkabouts, we sense that although it is going to be a tough fight, people are buying into my non-confrontational approach.

“Most importantly, people want to see a clear message of transformation and this is not something I can unilaterally impose on the people,” he said.

Tee Keat also denied rumours that he had been offered posts including that of party secretary general, if he were to pull out of the race.

“This is not true at all. I have never been offered any post by any party or any candidate who is competing with me,” he said.

He would not directly name the culprits behind the rumours but merely said that it had come from his opponents’ camps.

“I am not making an accusation here but because certain parties are spreading this information and a lot of delegates have asked for a clarification, I am making my stand here clear,” he said.

Zambry’s ‘peace and prosperity’ strategy to win over voters – By Debra Chong

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 11-Feb-2010 — Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir, who was yesterday recognised by the Federal Court as the lawful Perak Mentri Besar, said today he is following a strategy of “peace and prosperity” to win over an electorate that has been sharply split for the past one year by the state’s constitutional crisis.

A recent poll by a local research firm, Merdeka Center, noted his approval ratings at 43 per cent, which is slightly behind that of his predecessor Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.

Zambry (picture), who was rushing off after chairing a meeting with his executive council at a hotel here, told The Malaysian Insider he hoped the media would stop harping on the split in the electorate.

“We are following a strategy for peace and prosperity,” he said firmly, and added that his administration had been focusing on it for the past one year since taking over from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government.

“We will continue with our investment strategy,” he said.

He declined to comment on the Federal Court decision, which was in his favour, saying he had not yet read the written judgment.

“I don’t want to go into this right now. It’s too technical,” Zambry said adding he would talk to the state lawyers first.

Zambry also asked online news sites to report news of goodwill projects that will promote peace and harmony and not to play up the issue of the discord in Perak, before stepping away into the lift.

Earlier in the press conference today, the novice Barisan Nasional (BN) MB said his government will be launching “Perak Aman Jaya”, a blueprint detailing development projects for the state, next month.

The Perak MB said he has signed four Memoranda-of-Understanding (MoU) during a recent official tour abroad with the prime minister.

Zambry also announced major projects to start soon in the Silver State, including the setting up of several oil refineries, but did not go into detail.

“I’m very happy to tell you all that investors are very much interested to come back to Perak. The confidence level among investors has been rising, Alhamdullilah,” he said.

Zambry appeared relieved that Nizar has given up the legal fight to reclaim the post and promised to work together to put a shine on the Silver State.

“It’s good that he wants to work together,” a smiling Zambry replied when asked to comment on Nizar’s stand that PR representatives would lend their services to put in place the state BN government’s policies so long as it was “good” for the public’s welfare.

“We will extend our open hearts and hands to all good policies introduced by the government,” Nizar, the Pasir Panjang assemblyman told reporters in Ipoh late last night.

But the former MB laid down four conditions on Zambry’s administration.

Nizar said that the PR would give its full cooperation to BN if PR parties were allowed to use public premises to host functions; allowed to sit on the state legislative assembly’s special committees; given state funds of between RM150,000 and RM200,000; and called on Zambry to govern the state honestly, with integrity, and transparency.

“We do not want any policies that are made based on discrimination of races. On this note, we will work together with Zambry so we can banish all elements of racial discrimination and segregation in the state,” said Nizar.

The Pangkor assemblyman added that he had no quarrel with Nizar and dismissed the latter’s claims of having practised discrimination against PR assemblymen in the past.

“We have never discriminated against them on the allocations,” said Zambry, and played down the need for laying down any conditions.

“So no need for conditions. We must help the public. That’s the yardstick,” he said.

He pointed out that his own policy was “very clear”; he would not hesitate to provide the funds if it was for the public’s welfare.

Two things we learned from the Perak fiasco — The Malaysian Insider

The Malaysian Insider | 09-Feb-2010  — Firstly, the courts are not the final arbiter.

Such is the decaying state of institutions in Malaysia that these days a Federal Court decision is treated as just another decision. It does not have the gravitas of the US Supreme Court, judgments do not have clarity nor authority of the House of Lords, Supreme Court of India or the highest court of Canada.

Such is the cynicism that envelopes institutions that a good many Malaysians spent this week speculating whether the final score would be a 5-0, 4-1 or 3-2 finding in favour of Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir as the mentri besar of Perak.

(Note: 5-0 was a popular choice not because many Malaysians subscribed to the legal arguments put forward by the state but because cynicism courses through their veins.)

And that is why while Zambry obtained the result he needed he still cannot have the one thing he craves most – legitimacy.

Some 74 per cent of voters in Perak feel that elections remain the best way to resolve the power grab in the state. In the same survey conducted by Merdeka Center, voters were asked to choose which they preferred: the economy or having a democratically-elected government. Sixty per cent of the respondents said they wanted a government elected democratically.

So the Federal Court may have ruled 5-0 in favour of Zambry but in the eyes of most Perak folk and Malaysians, this result counts for little.

Secondly, a scarred royal household.

The Federal Court today affirmed the pivotal role played by Sultan Azlan Shah in the change of government in Perak a year ago. It was the former Lord President who interviewed the three elected representatives who resigned from Pakatan Rakyat and surmised that Datuk Nizar Jamaluddin had lost the confidence of the state assembly.

Nizar’s lawyers and renowned constitutional law exports from Malaysia and abroad agreed that the proper forum to test a motion of no confidence should be the legislative assembly.

But the Federal Court endorsed the steps taken by Sultan Azlan Shah to ascertain if Nizar still had command of the House. The intervention of the royal household a year ago invited scorn from Malaysians, who felt that the Ruler should have done the right thing and dissolved the state assembly.

Has the anger and disappointment with the palace gone away? No. The Merdeka Center survey shows clearly that a significant percentage of the people of Perak are dissatisfied with the role played by the palace in the Perak coup. Some 35 per cent of those polled were dissatisfied while 36 per cent expressed satisfaction but, tellingly, 29 per cent were undecided.

The large percentage of the undecided voter are made up of Chinese (41 per cent) and Indians (27 per cent), the two groups of voters who continue to be strong supporters of Pakatan Rakyat and feel strongly that new elections should be called.

So it can be surmised that the bulk of the 29 per cent of voters who did not want to give a clear answer to this question do not agree with the intervention of the palace.

Majority of Perak voters want fresh elections, poll shows

Zambry
Opposed to the latest opinion of Zambry, most Perak voters would like state-wide elections. – Picture by Choo Choy May

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 05-Feb-2010 — Nearly three in four voters, or 74 per cent, feel that fresh state elections remain the best way to resolve the political crisis in Perak, a new poll conducted on the eve of the first anniversary of Barisan Nasional’s controversial takeover of the government shows.

The independent Merdeka Center survey of 805 registered voters also shows that Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and Pakatan Rakyat’s Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, the man he replaced, are neck-and-neck in their respective approval ratings.

Zambry’s state-wide approval rating is 43 per cent and is drawn largely from the Malay, and one-half of the ethnic Indian electorate.

Nizar has an approval rating of 46 per cent which is drawn largely from a majority of Chinese, one-half of ethnic Indians and a little over one-third of the Malay electorate.

The Merdeka Center, which has been conducting regular polls since Election 2008, had recently polled the 805 voters who were drawn from large majorities of each ethnic group, and almost equally divided between rural and urban areas.
They were asked their views on the direction of the state, its current economic conditions, their views on government leaders, and the changes that they have seen since the Barisan Nasional takeover in February 2009.

The poll shows that the sentiment favouring fresh polls is detected in all ethnic groups.graph01

“More importantly, 65 per cent of the respondents, comprising large majorities from each ethnic group feel that the Perak political issue remains relevant today, one year since the events took place,” Merdeka Center said in a summary of the poll results obtained by The Malaysian Insider.

When asked about the impact of BN’s takeover on a number of factors ranging from the state economy to the performance of the state bureaucracy, less than 40 per cent of the respondents felt that it has had a positive impact.

Notably, only 45 per cent of Malay voters agreed that the takeover had improved the political position of the community in the state as opposed to 15 per cent who felt that things remained unchanged, and 28 per cent who felt that things had worsened.

Asked to choose between giving the economy a priority or ensuring that the government was democratically elected, 60 per cent of the respondents — including 58 per cent of Malays — felt that democratic elections were more important.

graph02The Merdeka Center poll appears to confirm anecdotal evidence given by political leaders in the state that Zambry and BN has regained some support from among Malays and Indians in the state but the large Chinese community are still largely backing PR and Nizar.

Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir had told The Malaysian Insider earlier this week that he was confident Umno could take 34 seats in the next elections.

The Pangkor assemblyman will know on Feb 9 if he remains Mentri Besar when the Federal Court decides the legality of his appointment after his BN toppled the PR government a year ago.

PR Mentri Besar Nizar’s government collapsed when two PKR state assemblymen joined a DAP lawmaker to turn independent to support the BN to control 31 seats in the 59-seat state assembly.

While Zambry appears to still have his work cut out in winning over Perak voters, he can, however, take heart in the poll results which showed that the number of people saying that the state was moving in the right direction has marginally increased from April 2009, from 31 per cent to 38 per cent.

However, a total of 44 per cent of voters surveyed still felt the state was moving in the wrong direction.graph03

There was a marked difference in response along ethnic lines when voters were asked if they thought the state was moving in the right direction.

A total of 57 per cent of Malay respondents and 48 per cent of Indians but only 12 per cent of Chinese respondents believed that the state was headed in the right direction.

The Merdeka Center also noted that voter sentiments relating to the economy remains mixed and ethnically polarised.

Overall, only 42 per cent of Perak voters surveyed said that present economic conditions were favorable.

With respect to the future, voters are again split with 42 per cent optimistic about the economy while 43 per cent were not.

The survey found that while 60 per cent of Malay respondents were confident with the economic management of the state, only 19 per cent of ethnic Chinese respondents said that they were confident.

Foes unimpressed with Najib’s Umno popularity – By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 31-Dec-2009 — The whopping 93 per cent popularity rating received by Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from within his own party comes as no surprise to his political rivals.

Influential PKR elections strategy director Saifuddin Nasution in an immediate respond to the rating said Najib’s fame is not due to the ‘reformist’ image that he’s trying to portray, but rather, caused by instituting a new wealth spread system for leaders within his party.

“Under then president Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the projects were only given to his so-called advisors or better known as the ‘4th floor boys’.

“But with Najib, the politics of reward is good as projects are well spread to Umno’s division and branch leaders hence the popularity,” Saifuddin told The Malaysian Insider.

A recent survey conducted by independent polling house Merdeka Center indicated strong backing of Najib by members of his own party with 93 per cent of them saying the country was headed in the right direction under his leadership.

A total of 95 per cent of Umno delegates surveyed also expressed satisfaction with Najib since he took over as party president. Notably, 66 per cent of party delegates polled felt that Umno had recovered from the problems that led to its poor performance in the last general election.

Saifuddin, who is also MP for Machang, however, said it would be foolish to swallow the rating full without any critical input and for him, his popularity will be unquestionable only if it has been put to the test.

“There is no contest for the party’s second highest leader. Najib’s popularity can only be tested if there is contestation from his No. 2,” he said, referring to the “traditional” spat between Umno presidents and their deputies which caused all of the party’s major crisis in the past.

But not all aspects of the popularity rating is “negative” added the PKR leader.

Umno’s constitutional amendment that would see direct elections for the party’s top posts initiated by Najib could also have contributed to the overwhelming support he receives.

“We know for a fact that the old quota system introduced by then Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not popular among the party leaders and grassroots so the amendments mat have made Najib very well-liked,” he said.

Meanwhile, PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub speaking to The Malaysian Insider said Najib’s popularity within Umno is utterly irrelevant to the electorates as far as he’s concerned.

“It’s got nothing to do with good governance as he has often failed to initiate reforms in key areas. It’s just a survey where he can tower himself,” he said, adding sarcastically that Najib’s multi-million spending on boosting his image “has finally paid off.”

Merdeka Center