Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak may have survived the country’s biggest scandal so far, and his coalition may have won two by-elections, but a steady step away from inclusive politics could be costly for Malaysia, says an editorial in the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
“He is putting political survival ahead of Malaysians’ interests,” the paper said.
It said the latest prosecution of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was only one of a series of actions targetting the opposition and dissenting ruling party members, after calls for Najib to step down amid the 1MDB scandal and allegations of billions of ringgit linked to it making its was to the prime minister’s private coffers.
SCMP said the victories in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar had led to a fresh crackdown on critics and a cabinet reshuffle with the prime minister’s men consolidating their positions in key posts.
“The moves strengthen Najib’s position ahead of the 2018 national elections, but are also threatening the country’s racial and religious harmony and the possibility of clean and effective governance,” it said.
The paper said while Umno was fractured due to internal fightings, the party was trying to get back lost suppport by playing the religious card, including giving a rare support for PAS’s moves to push through Shariah law amendments to accomodate hudud.
“Najib’s government is undermining the country’s fundamentals.
“Business and foreign investment will stay away until he embraces open and inclusive politics,” said SCMP.