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Rural voters not bothered about corrupt leaders, says Najib’s ex-aide

Oh Ei Sun says any comeback by his former boss would depend on a good PR campaign.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Voters in Pahang queue to cast their ballots in the 2013 general election. Photo: AP
Voters in Pahang queue to cast their ballots in the 2013 general election. Photo: AP

A Singapore-based academic who once served as an aide to Najib Razak says rural voters in Malaysia are still unbothered about corruption, adding that they will play a role in ensuring a comeback for scandal-tainted politicians.

Oh Ei Sun even claimed that those in rural areas have “very feudalistic mindsets”, and that unlike urban voters, are not concerned about corruption.

“For them, all these scandals, in our eyes it would be something very negative,” he told BFM Radio in an interview today.

“But for some of our compatriots, all this showing-off of wealth and so on is actually a symbol that the particular leader is very able,” said Oh, Najib’s former political secretary who is currently with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

He was asked about Najib’s chances of making a political comeback after his fall from power in 2018. The former leader has since been investigated, charged and convicted of multiple counts of corruption.

In July last year, he was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 12 years in jail in one of many cases linked to the 1MDB scandal.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Najib did not appear to rule out contesting the next general election despite his criminal conviction.

Oh said the corruption cases hanging over Najib are the “least of concerns” among the rural communities.

“For them it’s all about the economy and social assistance,” he said, adding that Umno could gain in the next general election based on the handouts announced by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government in the coming budget.

He added that any bid by Najib to make a comeback would depend on the ability of his “good public relations team” to continue portraying him as the defender of the downtrodden.

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