Anti-Najib campaign turns racial

Friday, October 17, 2008

Malaysian Insider (16/10/08): The campaign against Datuk Seri Najib Razak has taken racial and religious overtones.

Malaysia Today, the website once operated by jailed blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, published today what appeared to be a doctored picture of Najib performing religious rites dressed as a Hindu priest.

Accompanying the photograph was an article accusing Najib of using the services of a "faith healer, spiritual leader and voodoo master," known as Guruji.

This latest attack, posted anonymously, appears to be an attempt to drive a wedge between Najib and his most powerful constituency, the Malays.

By appealing to base racial instincts, the campaign against Najib invites comparisons to a similar strategy used successfully for the benefit of the Barisan Nasional coalition in 1990.

In the 1990 election campaign, with the Opposition apparently making inroads into BN strongholds, a photograph showing Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah wearing an East Malaysian headgear was widely distributed just days before polls.

The photograph of Tengku Razaleigh in the headgear, which bore motif similar to a crucifix, is credited with turning away significant numbers of Muslim votes from Semangat 46.

Now, Najib finds himself the brunt of what appears to be a similar campaign.

In the Malaysia Today article, he is alleged to be using Guruji to "neutralise" his enemies. It also alleges Najib and his wife are taking part in Hindu rituals.

The posting is the latest in what is turning into a campaign against Najib which has intensified since Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced he would not defend his Umno presidency next March.

Abdullah's decision appears to pave the way for Najib to become Umno president, and by convention the prime minister if BN remains in power.

Last week, the website posted a series of text message exchanges between Najib and Datuk Shafee Abdullah, the lawyer who initially represented Abdul Razak Baginda, who was eventually charged for abetment in the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Razak is a confidante of Najib and the SMS exchange appeared to imply the possibility that the deputy prime minister had interfered in investigations.

Najib has denied any abuse of power despite widespread criticism from Opposition parties who have called for an official investigation.

This week, a separate posting on Malaysia Today also published a letter from a local defence contractor alleging irregularities in the awarding of a contract to Eurocopter by the Defence Ministry while Najib was still the minister in charge.

PM Abdullah, who recently took over the defence portfolio, said yesterday he would be asking for a thorough briefing on the matter from Defence Ministry officials.

But despite the campaign against him, Najib remains the favourite candidate to become the next Umno president.


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