By FMT Reporters
PETALING JAYA: The Financial Times has said that Najib Razak has turned out to be a “disastrous” prime minister for Malaysia, having plunged the country into international disrepute while deepening the trust deficit towards him and his administration among the people at home.
The news portal noted that Najib being absolved by the Attorney-General (AG) of any wrongdoing for personally receiving RM2.6 billion from a Saudi donor was only part of the dissatisfaction with him. More unsettling was the premier’s “attitude” in dismissing the controversy as an “unnecessary distraction for the country”.
“Far from being a distraction, the questions raised by the transfer and the dealings of 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) are pivotal to Malaysia’s future,” the Financial Times said, adding that at stake was whether Malaysia could maintain its equilibrium as a “prosperous, free-market democracy” that adhered to moderate Islam and an internationally recognised legal system.
The news portal also noted that Tim Leissner, a senior Goldman Sachs banker who dealt with 1MDB, had taken “personal leave” and returned to the US.
It said that while Najib and 1MDB have maintained that all deals have been above board, the lack of any clear accounting was giving the impression that democracy in Malaysia was being “shredded by a self-serving Malay elite”.
Najib’s preferred use of authoritarianism, the Financial Times also remarked, was unsettling investors in Malaysian stocks and bonds and applying extra pressure on the ringgit.
It cited the jailing of former Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the muzzling of critics within his own party Umno, as well as the dismissing of former AG Gani Patail, who was leading investigations into alleged corruption by Najib and 1MDB, as instances of the PM’s authoritarianism.
The trust deficit among the people, the news portal said, was felt most acutely by the Chinese and Indians who it said were feeling alienated and thus had become “increasingly vocal in their dissatisfaction”, with this situation that had in turn led to a severe “brain drain” in the country.
“Malaysia’s ruling elite should realise that they stand at a critical juncture. Many may wish for a more accomplished leader, but the problem runs deeper than personalities,” the Financial Times said, adding that Umno needed to rule equally and democratically on behalf of all Malaysians and not just the rural Malays who have become their main loyalists.
It also said cronyism among Umno’s Malay business people must come to an end for the sake of the country. – FMT