PETALING JAYA: Political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff has rubbished a claim by former prime minister Najib Razak that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will sideline Islam and the national language.
Speaking to FMT, Kamarul said Malay interests would remain protected because of the dominance of Malays in the federal Cabinet and the respect that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad commands in PH.
“Mahathir is the central figure in the government and no one really dares to challenge him,” he said. “So the question of Malays becoming damned in their own country does not arise.”
He was referring to a recent Facebook article posted by Najib, in which he alleged that the agenda for Islam and Bumiputera government had no place in the new administration.
“I have said before that Malays would be bangsat in their own land should Umno lose power,” the former prime minister wrote.
“Bangsat” is an emotive Malay word that has “abject poverty” as one of its meanings, but it is often used pejoratively to mean “vermin”.
Najib said Malays could not depend on the present government because its strength came from “non-Malay support”.
Kamarul said Umno would now increasingly try to present itself as the defender of Islam and Malay rights to amass support in the face of troubling times for the party.
He noted that its new president, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had been summoned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to give statements on two separate cases.
“If Zahid gets into trouble with MACC, Umno members might find themselves having to deal with another leader poorly perceived by the public,” he said.
He said there was a perception that Zahid was close to Najib, who is at the centre of investigations into the 1MDB scandal. That perception and Zahid’s recent election as Umno president could result in an exodus from the party, he added.
Commenting on the result of the Umno presidential race, Kamarul attributed former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s defeat to his lack of political prominence in the last two decades or so. Many Umno members might have been unfamiliar with him, he said.
Moreover, he added, the votes of those who rejected Zahid were split between Razaleigh and former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin.