The new Prime Minister has sent out unmistakable indications that he wants to be an inclusive leader of all Malaysians.
THE evening before Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razakâ€™s big moment, his administrative and political staff had gathered at his Taman Duta house for a low-key get-together and doa selamat, to pray that all would go smoothly the next day.
Their prayers were heard and all went well as Najib was sworn in as Prime Minister before the King.
And watching on were former prime ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, both of whom have played separate roles in taking him to where he is today.
Najib took his oath of office in a firm and steady voice.
He has arrived at the pinnacle after 33 years in politics and government.
It was a full first day for the new Prime Minister as he tried to squeeze in time for family and close friends in between the official moments.
In the evening, there were thanksgivin g prayers in his house before he rushed off to attend a gala dinner in conjunction with the Malaysian F1 race.
More friends and family were waiting at his house when he returned. A long day had stretched into a long night but it was a moment to savour before he hits the ground running today.
Najib, as many have pointed out, is coming into office in circumstances that are ironically similar to those faced by his father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
The late prime minister had taken over a party that was unsure of its direction, his Alliance coalition had taken a beating in the polls and the people were deeply divided alon g racial lines.
But the sonâ€™s challenge will be more difficult than that of the father because Najib also has an economy in crisis on his hands.
But he has consolidated his support in Umno and brought some sense of direction back to the party after the week-long party assembly.
Apart from the economy, his immediate priorities are to win over the swing group, especially the non-Malays who abandoned the Barisan Nasional in the general election.
Politics is about power and he knows he needs the support of the non-Malays if he wants to win well in the next general election.
Politics and perception also go hand in hand and he is scheduled to make high-profile visits to “Chinatown” in Petaling Street as well as “Little India” in Brickfields. He is also expected to walk about in Kampung Baru, the Malay bastion in the inner city.
Just days before he was sworn in, he made a lightning visit to Sin Chew Daily, the most influential paper in the Chinese media, and also gave out allocations to Tamil schools.
That he is doing all this in his first few days as Prime Minister sends an unmistakable signal that he is an inclusive Prime Minister who wants to reach out to all Malaysians.
He is rebuilding the political goodwill that a leader needs to survive as evident in his maiden speech on TV last night. He granted amnesty to ISA detainees and withdrew the ban on two political publications.
Dr Mahathir, who is without doubt still a factor in the psychology of Umno members, is also expected to give the new administration a boost by rejoining Umno very soon.
The former PM, who had inflicted so much damage on Abdullah, demonstrated his approval for Najibâ€™s leadership of Umno when he turned up at the party general assembly moments before Najib spoke.
At the swearing-in yesterday, Dr Mahathir sat poker-faced through the ceremony. But once it was over, he was beaming as he and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali made their way out.
In fact, Dr Siti Hasmah and Najibâ€™s mother Tun Rahah Noah had walked hand-in-hand into the Balairong Seri earlier on.
Dr Mahathirâ€™s return to Umno will seal his approval of the man whom he had picked as Abdullahâ€™s deputy. But, ultimately, it is the economy which will either carry or drag down his administration.
Spelling out his administrationâ€™s economic initiatives will be his next move. The business sector is looking for leadership in decisionmaking and Najib will have to convince it about his policies and implement them quickly.
Najibâ€™s first 100 days will be packed with his agenda for change.
Source : The Star