Text: Scott Ng
Embattled. Under siege. Facing his greatest test. These words have been been used over and over again to describe Prime Minister Najib Razakâ€™s situation. They carry the connotation that the Prime Minister is weak enough to depose. Perhaps itâ€™s time his detractors admit that they are indulging in wishful thinking.
The truth is that, despite the challenges he faces, Najib still sits as our Prime Minister. Itâ€™s time to acknowledge his strength and tenacity, even as certain segments of the public deride him as a coward. This is not to say that the insult is entirely without basis.
Najibâ€™s â€œone step forward and two steps backwardâ€ approach to suing the Wall Street Journal has lent strength to this perception. But when it comes to matters domestic, the PM has shown a mastery of political intrigue that does not seem to fit with his cherubic appearance. He has not only survived, but has thwarted, the best machinations engineered by Mahathir Mohamad, a savvy political operator himself.
Despite the glimmer of hope Najibâ€™s detractors see in Mahathirâ€™s press conference at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, the truth is that even Mahathir himself had to recognise the PMâ€™s strength.
His press conference tells us that only the old guard are willing to stand behind him, bar Muhyiddin Yassin and Shafie Apdal, though â€œold guardâ€ could perhaps be used to describe them as well.
Furthermore, the press conference itself was an admission that Mahathir is unable to protect his men any longer. While Mahathir himself appears â€“ so far â€“ to be immune from prosecution, his people may not be so blessed. Every man on that stage knew that by being there, he might as well be drawing a target on his back.
But Mahathirâ€™s decision to call the press conference to denounce Sosma and the arrest of Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang was, in itself, an admission of just how vulnerable his agents are in this game.
Itâ€™s time we stopped painting Najib as an underdog, someone deserving contempt. The Bugis warrior is showing us that he has some fight in him, whether we like it or not. Mahathir and his cohort of old men have a lot of ground to cover if they are to end up victorious in this vicious game of thrones, but will Najib give them even an inch?-Free Malaysia Today