Negative views of wife a problem for Najib

Negative views of wife a problem for Najib

JUNE 27 — Malaysia’s “First Lady-in-waiting” Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor
has become a lightning rod for criticism of late.

Pointing to her overseas trips, the Opposition alleged that the 57-
year-old wife of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had gone
on luxury shopping sprees and shipped her purchases back home at the
expense of the Malaysian embassy in London and national carrier
Malaysia Airlines.

While Najib has stood up for his wife and dismissed the allegations
that she had received special treatment from Malaysian embassies
abroad, the negative perception of Rosmah has stuck in the public

Najib had to come to her defence again on Wednesday, this time over
her alleged involvement in the 2006 murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, a
28-year-old Mongolian woman whose body was later blown up with

Raja Petra Kamaruddin, the editor of online news portal Malaysia
Today, filed a statutory declaration last week at the Kuala Lumpur
High Court, alleging that Rosmah was one of the three individuals at
the murder scene.

This was after he was charged last month with sedition for implying
that Najib was involved in the murder. Rosmah gave her statement to
the police on Monday, the details of which have not been made public.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had repeatedly
rejected charges that Najib and his wife were involved in Altantuya’s
murder. Political analysts noted that as long as there are doubts over
their involvement, Abdullah’s choice of successor is seen as
potentially disastrous.

Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said Najib’s succession — the
timeframe of which has not been made official — would not be able to
reverse the decline of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno)
if he is plagued with Raja Petra’s new allegation against his wife.

“Najib’s credibility is already fragile among common folk, especially
in his own Malay community. He needs to justify his innocence if he
wants to provide a strong leadership to Umno,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur resident A.L. Tan said Malaysians liked to compare Rosmah
to Jeanne Abdullah, the wife of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
and Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, the wife of former Prime Minister Tun Dr
Mahathir Mohamad.

“They say Rosmah is not as humble as the present First Lady and the
former ones,” she said.

Agnes Teh, a resident of Penang, said: “Rosmah is seen as ambitious
and arrogant, so some people fear that she could be a tough ‘First
Lady’ who will be able to influence decisions.”

But she added: “We shouldn’t judge her while claims of her involvement
in the murder are being investigated.”

Rosmah, the current chancellor of the Industrial University of
Selangor, returned to Malaysia in 1983 after finishing her
postgraduate studies. She worked as a business development manager for
five years before deciding in 1997 to devote more time to her husband.

She is the second wife of Najib, who divorced his first wife of 11
years, Tengku Puteri Zainah Tengku Eskandar, with whom he has three
children, in 1987. The Umno deputy president then wed Rosmah, with
whom he has five children.

On whether Najib, 54, will make a better prime minister than Abdullah,
political analyst Yang Razali Kassim of the S. Rajaratnam School of
International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, told TODAY:
“That’s what many people expect, though it remains to be seen. To
begin with, he has a pedigree, being the son of Malaysia’s popular
second Prime

Minister Abdul Razak.”

But Najib, who is also a nephew of Malaysia’s third Prime Minister
Hussein Onn, has found it hard to steer clear of controversy.

In a widely documented speech in the late ’80s when he was the acting
chief of Umno Youth, he defended special Malay privileges and vowed to
bathe the keris (Malay dagger) with Chinese blood.

In 2005 and 2006, current Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin
Hussein raised and kissed a keris at the Umno general assembly.
Hishammuddin later acknowledged that the act had upset non-Malays and
apologised in April this year. — TODAY