If you live in the heart of urban Malaysia, you may get the perception that Najib Razak is less popular than getting a colonoscopy. Relentlessly egged on by the opposition media, many city dwellers aren’t shy about their disdain for our 6th prime minister. But consider that they may be living in a bubble – an alternate universe of their own making.
Najib is still – by far – the voting public’s top choice for prime minister. This was the inconvenient truth unearthed through a survey done by PKR-linked outfit Invoke. Rafizi Ramli, who heads the organization, announced the survey results himself. So, Pakatan zealots shouldn’t bother with their usual accusations of pro-Najib bias.
31 percent of survey respondents picked Najib for PM. Anwar Ibrahim, Pakatan’s great ‘uniter’ and its presumptive PM candidate for nearly a decade, only managed a pathetic 8 percent. Have all of Anwar’s rousing ceramahs and ubiquitous posters been for naught?
For all the paens sung about Anwar by Pakatan leaders and the activist intelligentsia, he likely never commanded the confidence of very many Malaysians – even opposition supporters. He was always just a convenient and empty vessel for anti-government hatred. And what support he had during his glory days has now evaporated in the wake of his hemming and hawing over issues like hudud. The titular leader of the opposition perpetually refused to lead, resulting in the collapse of Pakatan Rakyat.
On the other hand, the current de facto leader of the opposition – Mahathir – fully convinced of his own genius, has tried to lead a little too much. Voters aren’t biting. Our former dictator only managed to snag the backing of 5.7 percent of survey respondents. This miserable figure is notably lower than even support for Hadi Awang (6.1 percent), the PAS president widely vilified by Pakatan supporters as a traitor to the cause.
I suspect voters are simply tired of reliving the 80s and 90s. In Mahathir, they see an egotistical control freak who was deeply enmeshed in our country’s biggest scandals, who crushed the judiciary beneath his heel and presided over a climate of fear. In Anwar, they see an ambitious politician who simply craves personal vindication after his fall from grace. Neither of which are particularly palatable choices.
The problem is none of the other (possible) Pakatan candidates fare much better – Muhyiddin Yassin gets 4.4 percent, Rafizi 3.7 percent, Mukhriz Mahathir 2.9 percent, “seatwarmer” Wan Azizah 1.6 percent, Azmin Ali 1.2 percent, and Nurul Izzah 0.9 percent. Indeed, the starkly divided field is a stunning indictment of Pakatan elites intent on naming Anwar – or any of the above candidates – as the next PM. It’s not going to happen. Unity is in short supply, whether among Pakatan leadership or its supporters.
So, one wonders what Rafizi was trying to accomplish by releasing these survey results. The further embarrassment of an opposition coalition already teetering from infighting? It should also be noted that Rafizi’s official excuse for including his name in the survey was to gauge reaction to an issue-based politician like himself. Was he not-so-subtly implying that the other Pakatan candidates don’t care about issues important to the rakyat?
In any case, Rafizi’s Invoke survey only confirms what BN has been saying all along – Pakatan is in permanent disarray over its PM candidate. Isn’t it telling that Najib received far more support than both Anwar and Mahathir combined? If Pakatan’s two most famous and high-profile leaders can’t even stand toe-to-toe with Najib, what hope does the coalition have? Rafizi and friends may interpret the numbers however they like, but it’s only a matter of time before reality comes crashing down on them.