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Where did Najib go wrong?

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The root cause for Najib’s shocking defeat was his lack of leadership in more ways than one, writes JD Lovrenciear.

Our media headlines are all zooming in on the developments surrounding the unceremonious dethroning of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Several reasons for this are being put forward by citizens trying to explain how or why Najib fell.

The 1MDB saga steals the trophy as many believe that this was the mother of all crimes that toppled Najib from the pedestal of power.

Others maintain that the ghost of Altantuya and other unresolved murders were the prime factors. They say the very fact that till this day we have not found out out the motive for the murder, let alone conclusively solved the case or even Kevin Morais’s case, led to Najib’s fall.

And of course many perceive Najib as corrupt given how he dishing out all sorts of handouts everywhere, worsened by his spouse Rosmah Mansor’s penchant for flaunting her extravagance, deliberately or unintentionally.

But beneath all this is a crucial question that we can debate over. Was the leader’s hat that Najib wore too big for him?

Indeed Najib’s leadership was questionable when the Scorpene issue first spilled into the public domain.

Then came the drama that unfolded in the courtrooms over the shocking detonation of a foreign woman on Malaysian soil.

And then, the explosive mega billion ringgit 1MDB blew the lid off the PM’s seat.

A decisive leader would have dealt with the issues differently perhaps. But when Najib skirted these developments often taking cover behind several of his spokespersons, who could not win public opinion either, his leadership status got pinned to the ground.

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Likewise, a leader is judged by the policies and laws that are introduced to a nation. When such laws were rushed through like there was no tomorrow; when public feedback was not addressed by the leader himself; when lone rangers were allowed to ride roughshod on civil society leaders and citizens who expressed their concern; Najib suffered many kinks on his leadership armour.

In summary, the root cause for Najib’s shocking defeat was his lack of leadership.

If only Najib had stepped aside a good six months to a year ahead of polling and passed the baton on to a more charismatic leader within Umno, perhaps the BN may not have been punished so severely at the general election.

Najib’s fall is not because of opposition propaganda. It certainly was not because of citizens’ lack of gratitude and loyalty. The explanation for the substantial loss of public confidence has to lie in his lack of leadership. The hat was just too big for the ex PM.

In today’s fast-track world, socio-political, economic and environment leadership is vital to win populations over. So BN’s near demise was due to defective leadership.

That explains why the tides shifted to Pakatan Harapan when Dr Mahathir Mohamad appeared on the scene riding on the promise of freeing Anwar Ibrahim. There was a leadership bonus in Pakatan Harapan.

Perhaps it would do good for BN and Umno to take a five-year sabbatical to groom, nurture and showcase a promising leader if it wants to bounce back again with confidence.

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