The move by Selangor and Penang to revoke the titles bestowed on Najib Razak following his jailing for charges of corruption may further jeopardise the former prime minister's standing among fence-sitters and those who do not support Umno or Barisan Nasional (BN), analysts say.
Ahmad Atory Hussain of Universiti Sains Malaysia said the revocation of Najib's titles would undoubtedly hurt his reputation and add to the negative perceptions surrounding him since the Federal Court's decision on Aug 23 to uphold his conviction and jail sentence for the misappropriation of tens of thousands from SRC International.
"Given how stern the judge was, many people now believe that Najib was indeed involved in abuse of power and corruption on a grand scale," he said.
"Before this, many considered his prosecution a form of slander and propaganda, but now the issue has been made clear once more."
Najib was sent to Kajang Prison last month to begin serving his 12-year jail term after the Federal Court dismissed his final appeal against the conviction and sentence handed down by the High Court in 2020 and upheld by the Court of Appeal the following year.
On Sept 12, Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah stripped Najib of the Order of His Majesty the Crown Prince of Selangor or Seri Paduka Mahkota Selangor First Class, bestowed in 2004, and the Order of His Majesty the Crown Prince of Selangor Second Class, given in 1992.
The awards had carried the titles of Datuk Seri and Datuk respectively.
Just three days later, Penang governor Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak consented to the state's decision to revoke the Darjah Utama Pangkuan Negeri which carries the Datuk Seri Utama title given to Najib in 2009.
And previously, on Oct 26, 2018, the Negeri Sembilan palace cancelled the conferment of the Darjah Kebesaran Seri Utama Negeri Sembilan carrying the title of Datuk Seri Utama, bestowed on Najib in 2005.
Najib still holds eight other titles from Pahang, Perak, Melaka, Kedah, Penang, Perlis, Sabah and Sarawak.
But while those who were not strongly inclined towards him may take their support elsewhere, Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said Najib's diehard supporters, whether from Umno or elsewhere, would remain unshaken.
For such people, he said, the "Malu apa Bossku" slogan might have become deeply ingrained, and they would likely consider such developments a form of political prosecution.
"They will likely maintain their support for Najib despite the reprimands issued by the palace," he said.
In the meantime, more moderate Umno supporters might switch loyalties to other Malay parties like Bersatu, PAS and Pejuang, Atory said.
"Of course, this situation will change the perception of non- hard-line supporters," he said.
At the 14th general election, he said, the charges against Najib were still considered defamation but even so, many who once supported him shifted over to Bersatu, PAS, PKR and Amanah.
"What more now, when the case has been decided on by no fewer than nine judges," he said.
"For sure, many supporters will lose heart and start looking elsewhere."