Malaysia PM Najib appeals for unity in annual speech

Mr Najib delivering his annual speech at Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur last night, the eve of Malaysia's 59th Independence Day. He highlighted the country's economic achievements and infrastructure development.
Mr Najib delivering his annual speech at Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur last night, the eve of Malaysia's 59th Independence Day. He highlighted the country's economic achievements and infrastructure development. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

'Certain traitors' pose biggest threat to unity, he says, and points to Malaysia's achievements as sign of progress

Amid public dissatisfaction, especially in urban areas, Prime Minister Najib Razak appealed for unity in his Independence Day speech that lauded the country's multifaceted achievements as a sign of progress under his leadership.

"We don't want moments of disunity to occur, where episodes of splits would destroy everything that was built," Datuk Seri Najib said in his annual speech which was broadcast live last night, the eve of Malaysia's 59th Independence Day.

Without naming names, the Prime Minister referenced his biggest political foe, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and the recent student- organised rally to "catch" a government official known as "Malaysian Official 1".

The biggest threat to unity comes from "certain traitors", he said.

"We are not just facing external enemies, but a new form of colonisation is permeating and poisoning the citizens' minds and it involves those from within the country."

He held up Mahatma Gandhi's adherence to the rule of law as an example to follow.

"Unlike what is done by certain parties that want to topple a government undemocratically - with their referendums, declaration and inciting the people's minds with poison to head out for street demonstrations," he said in Malay.

University students held a rally last Saturday to voice disenchantment with the government's inaction against an unnamed public official listed in the US Department of Justice's civil forfeiture suit.

Lauding Malaysia's economic achievements and infrastructure development, Mr Najib said that the government understands the importance of affordable public transportation, economic competitiveness and rural development. The bulk of support for his ruling coalition comes from rural residents, who often rely on government assistance.

"Although the global economy is still turbulent, the Barisan Nasional government continues to make prudent decisions and be a responsible government so its people are not burdened," Mr Najib said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Najib appeals for unity in annual speech'. Print Edition | Subscribe