KUALA LUMPUR • Several Umno leaders yesterday hit back at two prominent Malaysian artists who raised politically uncomfortable questions against the government.
Singer Sheila Majid on Monday sent out a tweet over cost of living issues, three days after popular actress Nur Fathia Latiff hit out at a government-backed inquiry that implicated former premier Mahathir Mohamad in a huge central bank trading scandal in the 1990s.
Such open criticisms are rare in Malaysia as local performers critical of the government often fear they would be sidelined from television appearances and government functions.
Sheila, 52, tweeted in English: "Food is expensive, ringgit is weak, cost of living is high & jobs are scarce.
"Msians are becoming tired & angry for being squeezed over debts we did not create.
"Stop making excuses & looking for faults. Focus on the job of getting our country back on track! Disappointing!!"
Nur Fathia tweeted last Friday, soon after the Royal Commission of Inquiry's findings on the central bank losses implicating Tun Dr Mahathir was published: "Action taken only after 30 years? After decades of Tun's service? Is this 'smart'?
"When a person does nine good things, no one sees it. One 'mistake' and is that all you see?" wrote the actress.
The popular actress, 30, added in the tweet: "You want to dig up old stories right? Okay. Let's talk about a sum of money that was deposited to someone's personal account.
"Investigations should be made accordingly and the result is to be disclosed to the public since there are questions that have not been fully answered."
Nur Fathia did not mention names but was likely referring to the scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had been defending himself against reports that some US$700 million (S$944 million) was purportedly deposited into his personal bank accounts. He has denied any wrongdoing, and the Malaysian Attorney-General has cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Umno information chief Annuar Musa responded to Sheila's comments, saying she is not an economist to talk about such matters.
"A lot of (her comments) are wrong... This is not her expertise. If she wants to talk about the high cost of living, a rubber tapper can do that too," said Tan Sri Annuar to reporters at the ongoing Umno assembly.
A leader of Umno's Puteri (young women) wing, Ms Khaidhirah Abu Zahar, said yesterday: "There's no need to meddle in government affairs."
The politician added: "If she really wants to talk about the struggles of the people, then go on the ground like Puteri Umno. If she just wants to simply type words using her smartphone, then there's no need."
READ MORE Commentary by Leslie Lopez