With Najib and his men basking in the glow of victory, the real test for them begins now as they confront the challenges that lie ahead.
When you think of it, he has been getting plenty of free advice from a host of personalities associated or previously associated with Umno: Abdullah, Mahathir, Razaleigh, Zaid…
He has the power, but there is one thing even Power will find hard to manage and that is public perception.
Here’s something I wrote for Asia Times after the Umno elections:
Challenges mount for Malaysia’s Najib
By Anil Netto
PENANG – Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak took a big step towards taking over the premiership when he was returned unopposed this week as president of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the dominant party in Malaysia’s ruling coalition. His men also bagged most of the leadership posts in the recently concluded party elections. As head of the UMNO, Najib automatically becomes premier, although a formal handover date has yet to be announced.
Najib has been hammering home a message of change and reform, but many Malaysians wonder what his vision might entail.
There is little doubt that UMNO needs to reform after the ruling coalition suffered a severe setback in last March’s general election. The long dominant party lost its coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority at those polls, while five of the federation’s 13 states fell to the opposition. It represented the party’s worst setback since independence from Britain in 1957.
Many Malaysians, especially those exposed to independent online media and critical blogs, have grown tired of accounts of corruption, abuse of power, rent-seeking and the perpetual undermining of government institutions by UMNO-led governments. Meanwhile, minorities and disadvantaged groups have started to more strongly assert their rights.
Najib is taking over power at a challenging time for the country, both politically and economically. Malaysia’s trade-oriented economy is on the brink of recession, with exports and manufacturing both slumping badly. Within his party, there’s a sense of siege as a resurgent opposition alliance, led by Anwar Ibrahim, continues to challenge the ruling coalition’s eroded dominance. Full article here