The embattled former prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak has embarked on a campaign to unite Malays and defend Islam. This is a ploy to bury the 1MDB scandal and clear his name, say observers.

They base their observation on the strategy used by the Umno-BN-PAS alliance that won a series of by-elections in peninsular Malaysia and undermining the strength of the Pakatan Harapan in the process.

The tactics used range from accusing the government of failing the Malay community and  weakening the Malay hegemony by conceding power to non-Malays. Then came the “Malu Apa Bossku” campaign headed by Najib. It packed crowds and garnered votes but did not bring down the regime headed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the sitting Prime Minister.

Najib’s brand of politics seems primordial and his take no prisoners approach has the Pakatan Harapan coalition reeling from a loss of footing with the majority Malay voters.

In the ongoing controversy sparked by a series of scripted rhetoric regarding the state of the education sector in Malaysia, which pins the blame on Minister of Education Maszlee Malik, Democratic Action Party leader and MP for Iskandar Puteri, Lim Kit Siang finds himself at the centre.

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Maszlee said, Malays are not given job opportunities in the mostly Chinese controlled private sector in response to criticism on the renewal of a ‘matriculation’ system that apparently favours Malays to gain access to government universities.

Lim says the latest tactic is to stir division and dissension among different personalities from different Pakatan parties. In a blog post a week ago, he says the opponents are twisting and distorting facts and this could in turn become racial or religious conflicts.

Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country, with Islam as the main and official faith but the presence and practice of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism (among the other main religious practices) is allowed.

This month, Malaysia observed the 50th year of the tragic May 13 racial riots. Malaysian  media, including the new mainstream ones, revisited the heinous event, and it brought about a moment of solidarity amongst Malaysians.

But the trolls on social media tried to turn the solemn observation into a DAP and Lim Kit Siang problem. Memes and postings blaming the DAP leader and the party for the May 13 flooded Facebook and Twitter.

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But that is little compared to the seriousness of the fake news spread by opponents in well crafted missives saying DAP is forcing Dr Mahathir to fire Maszlee and appoint a DAP man as Education Minister.

This went viral for a few hours but quickly drowned by a strong denial from Lim Kit Siang, which brought the latter to argue that the PH component parties needed a new discipline that will stem attempts by the ‘wreckers of the agenda of a New Malaysia’ not to succeed.

Abdul Hamid Bador

Lim says this strategy — to undermine Pakatan, can only bring back Najib, Jho Low (a mastermind behind the biggest kleptocratic scandal in the world, the 1MDB) and their string of mega kleptocratic scandals which end up in Malaysia becoming a failed, rogue and kleptocratic state.

However, while the opponents to the PH is working in the dark to craft many misdemeanors, Malaysia has given itself a strong man as its police chief.

South China Morning Post focused on Abdul Hamid Bador’s press conference that unveiled what the Hong Kong-based newspaper calls ‘Malaysia’s new hard-nosed police chief’ and his certainty to bring back fugitive Jho Low.

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Bador, a career police officer, who was sidelined in 2015 for being too nosey about the 1MDB scandal promised he will bring the fugitive and his associates saying they will be safe if they come back.

Speaking like no police chiefs has spoken before — say observers, Bador told the fugitives there is nowhere they can hide and wherever they are, the Malaysian police will catch up with them this time.

Specifying no deadline for them to return but he says the police is talking to the embassies and the police of the relevant countries where the fugitives are hiding, thus putting pressure on them. He also assured there will be no ‘rendition’ of the fugitives unlike the ‘James Bond’ movies.

With this tactic, the police is showing its fangs after an overdue silence following the PH win in May last year. The appointment of the new chief also signals the PH is setting the narrative, overturning the Willy-Nilly Knight tactics (a type of game) of the Najib camp.