Najib: Malaysia needs to battle wrong perceptions on social media

PM Najib opening the Bandar Tun Razak UMNO meeting.
PM Najib opening the Bandar Tun Razak UMNO meeting.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PASIR GUDANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Sunday the country is facing a new battlefield due to the perceptions created by social media.

Datuk Seri Najib said the country was facing challenging times which were different from the issues of the 90s and 80s, due to the rise of social media. He added that this new battlefield needed to be countered.

"We need to manage the perceptions against the reality faced by the country, which were negatively influencing people's mind," he said.

"I am not a leader who does not accept criticisms as long as it is constructive," he said at the Pasir Gudang Umno delegates meeting in Johor on Sunday.

Najib also gave the assurance that he would give more clarification on issues facing the nation, including the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) saga.

Touching on the issue, Najib said that the RM42billion (S$15 billion) debt racked up in the state investment fund's first five years of operations were "debts that can be settled."

"I have asked for six months to bring down the company's debt and intend to do it. There will be more announcements in the coming months," he said.

He said there were other bigger scandals in the past amounting to billions of ringgit in losses but declined to elaborate.

However, he said, there had been many other programmes which brought progress to the country which people refused to acknowledge.

He also touched on the deposit of RM2.6 billion (S$963 million) into his personal account, which Malaysia's anti-graft unit last week said were donations from unnamed Middle Eastern sources and not from the debt-laden state fund. Controversy over the deposit has led to criticism from the public, the opposition and even some members of his own party.

Najib said the matter had since been clarified by the country's anti-graft unit, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.

"It has been the norm for us to accept political donations to be used for the party all these years," he said.

The 1MDB saga had also led to Najib sacking Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as part of a Cabinet reshuffle. That move has been met with wariness and rebukes from some Umno wing leaders in Johor, Muhyiddin's home state.

On the Cabinet reshuffle, Najib said he understood the Johor sentiments but stated that the issue needed to be dealt with.

He assured party members that he would continue to helm and steer the country through the trying times.