Similarities between Najib and Marcos By Andrew Sia
Thursday, May 12, 2022
Malaysiakini : In their haste to run, they left behind artworks, designer clothes and Imelda’s infamous 1,200 pairs of shoes. It was an obscene amount of wealth for a country where 60 percent of Filipinos lived in poverty.
about Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor? After their fall from power in
2018, police raided their properties and seized 12,000 pieces of
jewellery, 284 handbags, 423 watches, 234 sunglasses and cash in 26
currencies - all worth up to RM1.1 billion (the Bijan bags alone were worth an average of RM1.6 million each!).
And yet, half of Malaysians earn less than RM2,062 per month. How could they ever support a couple clearly living beyond their means?
2. Social media rebranding
jewellery and shoes were just small potatoes for Ferdinand and Imelda.
In total, they are estimated to have plundered US$10 billion from the
Filipino people. So how could they now elect his son (Ferdinand junior,
better known as “Bongbong”) as president?
Did he kneel down and beg forgiveness from the public for his father’s sins? Not at all.
according to the BBC, for the past 10 years, he and his team have been
pushing out a carefully crafted social media campaign to “rebrand the
old Marcos era, not as the period of martial law with its terrible human
rights abuses, corruption and near-economic collapse, but as a golden
age of crime-free prosperity.”
The BBC report said that hundreds of “deceptively-edited videos”
were posted on YouTube and Facebook and these have “persuaded millions
of Filipinos that the vilification of the Marcoses after their downfall
was unfair, that the stories of unrivalled greed were untrue.”
What about Najib? Well, he also launched a clever social media campaign and rebranded himself
as “Malu Apa Bossku”. And his people keep insisting that the corruption
charges against him (and Umno’s infamous “court cluster”) are unfounded
and “politically motivated”. Even worse, the judge who found Najib
guilty of corruption is now facing “pressure”.
Najib shamelessly twisted Lim Kit Siang’s warning about the recent
Philippines election and claimed the DAP man was actually praising his
premiership as a “zaman keemasan” (golden age) of prosperity!
Bongbong played similar word games
when he launched his presidential campaign, declaring, “If my father
was allowed to pursue his plans, I believe that we would be like
3. Our wealth is legit!
No, we didn’t steal, claimed the junior Marcos in a 2015 interview. Instead, he claimed that his father discovered the fabled “Yamashita treasure” - a haul of gold supposedly buried by retreating Japanese troops in 1945.
“legend” has been pushed by some Facebook pages linked to the Marcos
family, claiming they will “share” their wealth with Filipinos if they
return to power. Some voters actually believe this.
In 2015, when
stories were going around about Najib’s lavish travel and shopping
sprees, his office tried to claim that this was partly funded by his
“legacy family assets.” Fortunately, Najib’s four brothers retorted
that such claims were an insult to their father, Abdul Razak Hussein,
who was known for his honesty and thriftiness with government funds.
4. Why people believe
may ask why Filipinos or Malaysians choose to believe such twisted
social media stories. Is it just because they live, eat and sleep with
Facebook and are too lazy to investigate further?
As in Malaysia, race and language also play a part in the Philippines. Bongbong’s support doubled when he made an alliance
with outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, bringing in support
from the central and southern Philippines, which is more Cebuano rather
than the Tagalog of the north.
the most important factor is the widespread public disappointment with
the failure of various Filipino leaders after 1986 to really change the
lives of poorer Filipinos, thus allowing Bongbong to successfully
portray himself as “the candidate for change”.
example, Corazon Aquino, who became president after Marcos senior fled
the country, came from a wealthy landowning family herself. Filipino
lawmakers in Congress came from similar backgrounds, and they all failed to do
serious land reform to fix the country’s biggest problem – 20 percent
of the population owned 80 percent of the land, and most of the poor
were landless labourers.
In Malaysia, one factor driving the
“meltdown of Pakatan Harapan” was the pulling back of aid to the poor,
especially Malay fishermen, rubber tappers and urban low-cost flat
dwellers, thus leading to disillusionment with the new government, as
Parti Sosialis Malaysia chairperson Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj explained.
Harapan leaders were too eager to rush towards “meritocracy” and
“business-friendly policies”. Others felt the “lazy Malay” had been
“spoiled” by subsidies. They forgot that Harapan had only obtained 25 to
30 percent of the Malay vote in 2018, added Jeyakumar.
was that Umno and PAS successfully portrayed Harapan as being
“anti-Malay” and leaders in Bersatu began to panic and wobble. And of
course, this also allowed Najib to rebrand himself as the “true
protector” of the Malays.
The majority of fed-up Filipinos,
including the middle class, have repeatedly said in surveys that they
would support “a strong leader”, who does not have to bother with
elections, to “fix” their country’s mess. In other words, they want a
good-hearted dictator. Or a magician.
In Malaysia, many expected a
miracle, an instant "heaven on earth", after Harapan won in 2018.
Sadly, both Malays and non-Malays ended up disappointed and now some
feel there’s “no point” in voting. Perhaps this is exactly what will
allow Najib and gang to return to power.
So, there we have it, the
chilling similarities between Malaysia and the Philippines, between
Najib and the Marcos family. Will we learn the right lessons from them?