Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The Election Results Reinforce the Need for Najib’s Transformational Leadership
That's because while BN has won a clear victory, it has not managed to persuade the Chinese community it wants to look after their interests as well as those of Malays.
So Najib now has more reason than ever to make the case for measured change that boosts BN's multi-ethnic appeal; expands policies that benefit the rakyat based on need, not race; and softens Umno's Malay-centric stance.
Recognising the polarisation that the vote signified, Najib's immediate reaction was correct, and appropriately conciliatory. "We must have national reconciliation and reject policies that are racial or religious in nature," he said.
Hours later, Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin went even further, as he echoed the need for radical change.
"What we got yesterday was reprieve," he tweeted. "If BN doesn't deliver on the change that people demand then GE14, khalas (it's over)."
In the coming weeks the BN leadership, academics and the media will pore over the GE13 results trying to determine what they mean in terms of racial polarisation, and that won't be an easy task.
Najib's job of transforming the economy is already well underway. The same is true of his party. In fact, you could say it began when he first spoke of "winnable candidates". We now know, given the nomination process for GE13, that this term was a code word for cleansing old Umno in favour of fresh faces and ideas, and one of these new ideas is that purely racial politics is an idea that has run its course in Malaysia.
Najib still has a long way to go, and he needs the support of his party colleagues. But make no mistake: Najib Razak is no Abdullah Badawi. He is determined, and can be tough when he needs to be. We believe he will succeed, with careful and consensus-based transformation steps.
It won't be easy. Most delegates will publicly applaud his talk of non-racial politics, but behind the scenes there will be many who secretly want to keep their 'Malays-first' values intact at all costs. These people are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Najib's desire for change guarantees him a difficult but hugely important challenge. In the end, the prize is transformation every bit as important as that which has taken place with the economy, because at stake is our ability to live together as one Malaysia.
With this as the backdrop, now more than ever, Malaysia and BN need the transformational leadership of Najib Razak.