Creative netizens turned Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak into a political piñata which his rivals gleefully clobbered. For some though, especially Najib’s colleagues in the ruling coalition, the kangkung jokes have grown stale.
MCA vice-president Datin Chew Mei Fun feels the kangkung issue has been overblown, reasserting that the vegetable was merely an example.
The prime minister, she says, was trying to make it relatable — a reason also cited by Najib himself — although she acknowledges that maybe he could have used a more appropriate example.
Najib’s message has been distorted, she adds.
“I wish people would look at the issue at hand. The government cannot be blamed for everything as there are things beyond their control.”
She, however, sympathises with the rakyat who want a good life without any price hikes. People feel the government has not done enough.
“We have to do more,” she says.
Chew’s fellow colleague, Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, describes the criticisms levelled at Najib as “ill”, stating that the jokes have gone overboard.
The former Puteri chief argues that the essence of the speech was to show that there have been positive changes.
“It may be small, but it’s there,” the Papar member of parliament says.
Although times were tough for Malaysia, it would be more beneficial to work together instead of ridiculing or bashing each other.
MIC central committee member Datuk S. Murugessan agrees that some have gone overboard with their ridiculing of the Barisan Nasional chairman.
The former MIC secretary-general says the opposition’s harping over the matter reveals it has run out of ideas to pick on.
“It also shows that its propaganda machine has a lot of time on its hands,” he says, adding there are more important issues to address.
Political analyst Dr Sivamurugan Pandian says the whole thing has evolved into a form of character assassination.
The rakyat should evaluate the prime minister based on the entire speech he made instead of a mere “20 seconds”.
Sivamurugan, however, points out that as politics is about perception, the opposition will exploit it.
“But it can also earn Najib sympathy.”
Political analyst Dr James Chin, meanwhile, says the government cannot take credit for prices of some food items (such as kangkung) going down as they are controlled by the free market.
“At the same time, neither can the prime minister be blamed when prices go up,” he says. Najib could have come up with a better example, he adds.
Rather than go on the defensive, Najib should have humoured his critics, he says.