PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak became more of a Malay nationalist after the disastrous results of the 2013 general election, although he had taken office in 2009 with a reform-centred agenda, his younger brother, Nazir Razak said today.
Nazir, the former chairman of CIMB group, said Najib had taken office with an ambitious plan to implement reforms on national governance as well as the economy.
“He started off with a reform-centered agenda, where he set up the Government Transformation Plan and New Economic Model. At the heart of it was a needs-based affirmative action. He wanted to overhaul the New Economic Policy and make affirmative actions for all poor (Malaysians),” Nazir said at the Projek Amanat Negara forum organised by the United Kingdom and Eire (Ireland) Council of Malaysian Students.
He praised Najib’s outreach efforts with various racial minority groups in the country, notably the Malaysian Indian community. “The way he handled some communities, like the (Malaysian) Indian community, some people said that he was the first (Malaysian) Indian prime minister,” he said.
However, the results of GE13, according to Nazir, led to a change in Najib’s politics, where he became more of a pragmatist politician.
Barisan Nasional was returned to power with 133 parliamentary seats (seven less than in 2008) but the ruling coalition lost the popular vote for the first time in Malaysian election history.
“I think he was told by Umno leaders that his 1Malaysia (slogan) and his (economic) rebalancing ideas would not work, and he had to double down on Malay nationalism in order to secure more political support,” said Nazir.
“Then you could see after GE13 he became more of a Malay nationalist,” he added.