Najib's moment of crisis: Some views in the media on the political storm

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak offers a prayer during a Ramadan Iftar gathering at a mosque in Semenyih on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on July 5, 2015.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak offers a prayer during a Ramadan Iftar gathering at a mosque in Semenyih on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on July 5, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is facing the most serious allegation of corruption levelled against him so far - that funds worth nearly US$700 million (S$950 million) were channelled to his personal bank accounts through proxies linked to state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Mr Najib has said he did not take any funds for personal use, and called the allegations made in a Wall Street Journal report on Friday "political sabotage". The 1MDB has insisted that no funds had been transferred to Mr Najib's accounts.

Below is a sampling of some views on the ongoing leadership crisis seen in commentaries and blogs.

Not something that can be shrugged off

"This is not something Najib can just shrug off his shoulders like so much dust, as he has with most of the accusations thrown at him so far. In many other countries, the people would have started a revolt. But Najib must not take the peaceful reaction to the expose to mean that Malaysians are not paying close attention."

SCOTT NG, regular contributor to Free Malaysia Today, in a commentary on July 7

An issue of mismanagement

"It is not a simple matter of 'political sabotage', or an ouster, as this touches on leadership, management and crisis management; mismanagement has already backfired on the government.

"Delaying Umno's election for 18 months is not a good tactic as it is imperative for Najib to defend his credibility as a leader.

"If his credibility trickles away, it may impact the election in Sarawak, even cause a critical situation at the next General Election."

LIN RUI YUAN, Deputy Managing Editor, Sin Chew Daily in a commentary on July 7

The damage is done

"While the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, some Umno leaders and oppositions have called on all relevant agencies to investigate all allegations made against Najib, there lies a reality, which we cannot deny. That is, the damage is done.

"Now the question, is there anything else that we can do, even if the allegation is not true?"

KHOO YING HOOI, faculty member of Department of International and Strategic Studies, University of Malaysia, in a commentary in The Malaysian Insider on July 6

Step down, but do three things first

"No changing of the guard will remove greed and abuse of power from the system but you [PM Najib Razak] can do the following before you leave:

"Firstly, revisit the Official Secrets Act and make substantial amendments to ensure it is used only to protect military secrets and the security interests of our country. The Act should not protect and hide government contracts and financial dealings.

"There must also be openness in all government affairs so that your successor, ministers and elite civil servants will be more careful with public funds.

"Secondly, have your ministers and the chairpersons of Off-Budget agencies, their spouses and family members declare their assets for public scrutiny.

"You know I tried to do this without success, but perhaps after what has happened, the Barisan Nasional ministers will now have a change of heart. Also, introduce a law under which the prime minister is prohibited from assuming other portfolios, especially finance.

"Finally, legislate on political funding so that the taxpayers contribute a sufficient amount to major political parties to cover election expenses."

ZAID IBRAHIM, a former minister in the Prime Minister's Department, in an open letter to Mr Najib on his blog on July 6

Najib's reputation weakened

"Malaysia is a place where reputation matters enormously and where bad press sticks. Even if the attorney general does not feel the evidence is strong enough to prosecute, there is a very strong sense that Najib has been weakened regardless."

CHRIS WRIGHT, freelance journalist specialising in business and financial journalism in Asia, in a commentary for Forbes on July 5