Ambiga: Growing support for Najib ‘very worrying’, wouldn’t happen in other countries

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan speaks to Malay Mail in Kuala Lumpur January 29, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan speaks to Malay Mail in Kuala Lumpur January 29, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 1 — Lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s efforts to remain politically relevant have been impressive but the fact that he is gaining traction is “very worrying”.

In a recent interview with the Malay Mail, the former Malaysian Bar president and human rights advocate said what Najib was trying to achieve, given the number of criminal charges he faces, would probably be unheard of in other countries.

Asked if she felt that Najib can get back into the game, Ambiga replied: “Absolutely, he has the right to do whatever he’s doing now but the very fact he’s gaining traction is very worrying.

“Because I’m not sure if he was in any other country, he could have done this when you have been charged with so many serious offences.”

Najib has been charged with 42 counts of graft and abuse of power.

Since Barisan Nasional was booted out of power in the 14th general election, Najib, who was relatively silent prior to that, has taken to social media, particularly Facebook, to voice his disagreements over controversial PH’s policies.

The former prime minister has become a sensation with his penchant for trolling people on social media, even going as far as to brand himself the “King of Trolls”.

During a meet-the-people session in Shah Alam recently, Najib also thrilled a young male audience when he tested a black-and-red Yamaha Y15ZR 150cc, a popular motorcycle among youths.

The event was headlined Malu apa bossku (“Why the shame, boss?”), and the bike’s registration plate — 8805KU spelled out “BOSSKU” — made the rounds on social media.

Najib himself started using Malu apa bossku as a hashtag.

He has also been active in meeting grassroots leaders, rural communities and the general public to hear their grouses.  

Ambiga said these antics, coupled with his efforts to meet the people, is something Pakatan Harapan lawmakers can learn from Najib.

“It’s a master stroke, the way he is carrying on... he is not keeping quiet... he is not crawling away into a corner.

“This is the kind of work you need to do on the ground to move forward as a coalition. They could take a few lesson from there, that’s what I would say,” she said of the current government.

Ambiga was also referring to Najib’s active campaigning during the Cameron Highlands by-election where the former prime minister had actively met with voters especially the Orang Asli community from rural areas.

He was seen driving a four-wheel drive through muddy terrain and rivers, and also having meals together with the Orang Asli.

Ambiga also pointed out that Najib has the right to do whatever he is doing now.

“Of course he is innocent until proven guilty but nevertheless, I think it’s time for the government to understand what the people really want from them.

“I feel sometimes there is no clarity as to what the people on the ground need. And I think it’s time for them to go back to the ground,” she said.

Time for PH to change the narrative

Ambiga said while Barisan Nasional and Umno are still in a mess, there is no better time than now for PH to lead the nation.

“If PH behaves as a government for all, they can actually change the narrative... what we are reading now is people are freely using extremist language and there is no rebuttal from PH.

“There is no one coming out to say that’s not the way we want the nation to go. PH used to be critical in rebutting when they were the Opposition,” she said.

She related that during her time with Bersih 2.0, political parties like PAS would join their rallies, saying there are good people there.

“We are talking about ordinary Malaysians, and shouldn’t we be improving everybody’s life?

“It’s time to start a needs-based policy immediately. If they do that they will be stronger, I think they are taking steps but for some reason it’s not coming together,” she said.

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