HARAKAHDAILY Thursday, 26 January 2012 22:20
EXCLUSIVE Jan 26: Pangs of dissatisfaction are being felt among UMNO leaders who are questioning its president Najib Razak’s self-promotion, while at the same time the party image suffers a steady decline.
Harakahdaily has been briefed by a well-placed party insider that UMNO leaders were starting to realise this development trend following various pollsters’ findings that Najib’s popularity has been on the rise, with some saying exceeding even that of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
And while this is taking place, other UMNO and BN leaders have seen their ratings taking a plunge, with Najib’s deputy Muhyiddin Yassin taking the brunt of it.
“If the trend continues, it would only be who will win the coming general election. The rest of us can pack up,” said the UMNO leader, a former state assemblyman who lost in the 2008 elections.
Citing the controversy surrounding the National Feedlot Corporation, he pointed how Najib absolved himself from the scandal by tasking Muhyiddin and Noh Omar, the current Agriculture and Agro-based minister, to handle the heat.
“However, it was Najib who chaired the High Impact Committee which approved the project. Some even questioned why Najib did not stop the Auditor General’s report on NFC when he had been privy to reports about the project’s problems as early as 2010,” he added.
Enter the ‘NCT’
Meanwhile, another source has revealed to Harakahdaily about the formation of a media agency called National Communication Team, an effort inspired by controversial image consultant Apco who has been tasked with boosting Najib’s popularity.
According to the information obtained, the NCT is an agency under the Prime Minister’s department, operating from Bangsar.
The source added that NCT is led by Sufi Yusuff, former press secretary to former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Sufi replaces Jalil Hamid, who served news agency Reuters’s Kuala Lumpur bureau and who is said to have been given the responsibility to helm the UMNO-owned New Straits Times to prevent any sabotage against Najib.
Explaining further, the source revealed that the NCT was made up of ‘advisers’ comprised of senior journalists, including Khalid Mohamad, former chief editor of UMNO’s staunchly right-wing mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia.
It said NCT’s original role to prop up the government’s image had now been replaced with efforts to ensure a positive image for Najib.
“Due to this, those in NCT are confused. Who do they report to? The country or the personal needs of Najib?”