GEORGE TOWN: Pakatan Harapan Chief Secretary Saifuddin Abdullah has belittled Prime Minister Najib Razak’s attempts to identify with ordinary members of the public, saying he could only pretend to know how they suffer under the weight of the high cost of living.
Speaking at a forum organised by Bayan Baru PKR here over the weekend, he said future prime ministers of the country should not be sons or daughters of former PMs because they would tend to be out of touch with the common folk. Najib is a son of Malaysia’s second prime minister.
Saifuddin noted that many Barisan Nasional leaders had lately been claiming that they felt the hardship endured by the masses.
“In reality, they do not know how it feels,” he said. “If they really knew how it felt, then they would not go about saying ‘the price of chicken is cheap’ and ‘if vegetables aren’t cheap, then buy kangkung.’
“And this is from a PM that cares for his people. That is why I say, enough of having a PM who is a son or a daughter of another PM. Enough is enough.
“We want a PM and a Malay leader who knows how it feels to know hardship, rather than saying ‘I feel I know.’”
He said Pakatan had capable leaders who could serve as prime minister, adding that they were not children of prime ministers.
Saifuddin is a former deputy minister. He left Umno in 2015 over disagreements with the government’s handling of the 1MDB issue. He is now with PKR.
He said Umno had deviated far from its original purpose, that it had gone from “berjuang” (Malay for “striving”) to being “berwang” (with money) and “beruang” (like a bear).
“Umno had berjuang before. But now people ask me, what are they doing really, and I say berwang. Then they ask me, do you mean ‘beruang’? I say both.”
Saifuddin said the Malays ought to leave Umno as it no longer took care of the Malays as a group of people, but only a select few.
“For example, go and ask people in the world of construction. They will tell you what kind of people get contracts, especially in states under BN. I need not say more.”
He acknowledged that government spending was excessive too when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister, but he said there were some tangible results.
“You see KLCC, Penang Bridge, Putrajaya. Yes, he spent a lot. Yes, he was also spendthrift. But at least we got something out of the money.
“Najib spends a lot of money, but do we see it? No we do not. We only see private jets, handbags, lavish kenduris (feasts).” –