KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 ― Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s newfound fame with the “Malu apa bossku?” (Why the shame, boss?) trend does not automatically translate into popularity at the ballots, Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa has said.
But is he bothered by Najib’s personal activities as the former prime minister seeks to rebrand himself? In a recent interview with Malay Mail, the Ketereh MP said it does not matter as Najib is not only no longer in government, but also not an Umno top leader.
“Whether his is popular or not, to me sometimes when it comes to those online, when you are popular among them, it doesn't mean you are popular in election,” Annuar said.
“Those are two different things, but to me, it is good to see a person without posts, after all the harassment that he received, he is now liked by certain segments of the people.
“Let's put it this way. Now he, Datuk Seri Najib is as a person. He is not Datuk Seri Najib the Umno president. He is not Datuk Seri Najib who is part of party officials.
“He should be given the freedom. Which is his right,” Annuar added.
He insisted that Umno has nothing to do with Najib’s programmes, but conceded that the scandal-plagued politicians’ antics on social media has indirectly helped the party.
“We welcome the new development. This new rebranded ‘bossku’,” he said.
Since last month, Najib has gone on a charm offensive to transform himself into a people’s champion, and fervent critic and troll against the Pakatan Harapan administration.
In particular, he has used the catchphrase “bossku” and “Malu apa bossku?” in an attempt to endear himself to blue-collar youths, tapping on the “rempit” culture.
Over the weekend, the phrase “Malu apa bossku” had even made its way into the popular song contest Anugerah Juara Lagu 33, prompting Najib to tout his own popularity.
Among others, a rap song and a clothing line bearing the phrase have been released by third parties hoping to cash in on Najib’s viral fame.
This comes as Najib pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and money laundering, in what is set to be the first of many trials over suspected multibillion-dollar fraud at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The trial starts nine months after Malaysians voted Najib out of office in a general election dominated by public disgust over allegations some RM18 billion was stolen from 1MDB, and about a quarter of it went into his personal bank accounts.
Meanwhile, Annuar said he felt that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration’s reaction against Najib may be overkill, as if the election victors are afraid of the Pekan MP’s popularity.
Annuar added that as a former prime minister and current lawmaker, Najib has the necessary knowledge on nation development, which he reserves the right to share and can rebut PH's policies or statements.
“Well if you do things [like that], in younger people's term, it's what you call an overkill, or overdo,” said Annuar, referring to the five police reports lodged against Najib recently in Langkawi.
“So you should just allow Datuk Seri Najib to go to Langkawi. He wants to spend his private holiday, and of course he is still a Member of Parliament.
“You must remember, he is an MP and people like him. So it's good for him. Why the need to do police reports?” he questioned.
Last week, national newswire Bernama reported that police reports were lodged to ensure former Najib's programme scheduled in Langkawi, is not racist or seditious.
The agency quoted Langkawi police chief, Supt Mohd Iqbal Ibrahim saying that five reports were lodged by Langkawi Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) members at the Kuah police station.
The reports, which were sighted by Bernama, reportedly asked the police to conduct a probe as to whether the programme had a permit, and also expressed concerns that there could be elements of sedition or racism.