Najib goes off track with train ride

DR WONG SOAK KOON/ALIRAN

Makcik Kiah would have tweeted her desire to get a pre-launch ride on Phase 1 of the Mass Rapid Transit Putrajaya line to MRT Corporation Sdn Bhd had she known the company entertained a similar request reportedly tweeted by former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

She would have been thrilled if she’d been offered a sneak peek at the train line, though it would mean only a brief respite from the cruel reality of economic hardship and the rising cost of living following the Covid pandemic.

Alas, she would not even stand a chance to be bestowed such an honour as she was a just nobody whose name occasionally passes the lips of former Prime Minister Mahiaddin Yasin during the initial phase of his short-lived rule.

Makcik Kiah – for those who do not know or have forgotten – is a fictional character who represents the average Malaysian, earns a small sum and practises an honest living. But her life, like that of any average Malaysian, has been made more difficult by the current economic and political uncertainties.

She pales in comparison with Najib, who started his political career as a menteri besar in his early 20s, climbed up to become prime minister and finance minister, and fell in 2018 after Barisan Nasional lost in the general election.

To be fair, Najib’s journey in life – as described in the previous paragraph – has not been an entirely free ride, despite the insistence of a few of his detractors.

He acquired worldwide fame – of the financial kind – in which he presumably took pride, and which the MRT management seemed to have taken in its stride.

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The political significance of Najib and his family’s train ride is further enhanced as it preceded Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s train ride. The latter later launched the new line and rode on the train.

It is only fitting that Najib – a leader who keeps the people’s interests close to his heart – is presented with this privilege so he can have hands-on experience of what it is like to be an ordinary commuter in a packed train; a commuter who does not have the luxury of owning a motorcycle, let alone a Vellfire.

His deep concern for the people is illustrated in his recent explanation that the king in his “Cash is king” mantra refers to the people, and this explanation might have mesmerised the MRT top management.

Najib, who enjoys celebrity status, caught the attention of social media users, who tweeted their disgust at what they considered an affront to right-thinking Malaysians just because MRT bestowed Najib – a convicted felon – the honour.

Such behaviour is unbecoming of patriotic citizens, and can be considered a national embarrassment brought about by – if truth be told – incurable envy. Not everyone or anyone gets invited to a MRT ‘joyride’.

It is downright nonsensical of critics to equate the train outing with taking the entire nation for a ride. That is tantamount to saying that Najib tends to ride roughshod over others, which is far from the truth.

The ride on the Putrajaya line – starting from Kwasa Damansara through to Kampung Selamat, Sungai Buloh, Damansara Damai, Sri Damansara Barat, Sri Damansara Sentral, Sri Damansara Timur, Metro Prima, Kepong Baru Jinjang, Sri Delima and ending in Kampung Batu – could be instructive.

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It may be a dry run of a line with which Najib may want to familiarise himself as he may eventually grow to like certain sites that have historical and political import.

Be that as it may, we trust that the seasoned management of the train company is competent enough to decide who deserves to be taken for a ride. – The Malaysian Insight



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Dr Mustafa K Anuar, a longtime executive committee member and former honorary secretary of Aliran, is, co-editor of our newsletter. He obtained his PhD from City, University of London and is particularly interested in press freedom and freedom of expression issues. These days, he is a a senior journalist with an online media portal
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