PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak is still trying to fathom the “extraordinary and phenomenal” reception he receives when he goes on a walkabout during his visits around the country.
The former prime minister said he was surprised that some were willing to wait for him until as late as 1am just to catch a glimpse of him.
There were those, he said, who even wanted to watch him eat.
“I am still trying to understand the reasons behind this reception I get. Not just last night, but in other parts of the country too,” said the former prime minister, who is now sometimes referred to as “bossku” – a Sabahan term of endearment that has become a personal catchphrase.
In a posting on Facebook on Saturday, he had said he would be visiting Penang and would make a stop for nasi kandar at 1am.
“Full house wehhhh kat Nasi Kandar Pokok Ketapang,” he posted late last night.
“It was quite extraordinary,” said Najib to reporters in Penang.
The former Umno president, however, said there could be several reasons for the interest shown in him. The people were now able to approach him personally unlike before when security protocol kept him at arm’s length.
“When I was the prime minister, I was bound by protocol and tight security. I was informed by police that if an individual was allowed to get too close to me, I could be easily stabbed. They could not guarantee my safety.”
He went on to say that based on his observation, the people were not too fond of the authorities being too strict with their protocol so much so that it resulted in the rakyat shying away from a leader.
That was the reason, Najib said, he preferred a very casual approach on his various trips, to make it easier for the ‘rakyat’ to get close to him. “The ‘rakyat’ are my bodyguards.”