Najib’s image as reformer damaged, opines professor
The Malay Mail 24 November 2011

Even though Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has tried hard to change the country by implementing many reforms and transformation programmes for the nation during his tenure, the tabling of the Peaceful Assembly Bill might have irrevocably damaged his public persona as a reformer in touch with the youth.

Monash University political science professor James Chin told The Malay Mail the Bill which makes it illegal for street rallies to be held and stopping youths from participating or organising an assembly is a blow to his image amongst the urban population.

“It will have a blowback, a lot of people will think he tipu (lied) to the rakyat (public), this will damage his image and public persona portrayed as a reformer. However, in these matters the rural areas people don’t care.

“Urban middle class public perception on the other hand will definitely be affected. He will definitely lose popularity in the urban areas,” Chin said during a phone interview yesterday.

When asked if this will affect Barisan Nasional’s (BN) performance in the next General Election, he said it will affect the urban areas but the election’s timing will also play a big role.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng also questioned Najib’s policy’s consistencies, saying this latest Bill will make him look like a “flip-flop” premier just as his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was criticised back then.

“On the one hand he is trying to promote himself to the youth, to project himself as a premier who understands youth but at the same time he curtails their behaviour and restrict on how they want to express themselves.

“Are they saying that 21 years and below don’t have constitutional rights? The age of 21 is only the right to vote, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any rights at all, especially the right to speak up and hold peaceful demonstrations.

“And in today’s society, a lot of countries are lowering the voting age to 18 because the youth have access to more information compared to two or three generations ago. More consistencies are needed in Najib’s administration,” said Khoo.

He suggested that the government should instead build platforms to engage the youths and the public.

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