When he allowed his forces to brutally attack thousands of peaceful marchers, who were calling for an end to corrupt practices over the weekend, Najib must surely have taken into account the effect on his international image?
Millions of dollars worth of expensive PR, positioned press and TV interviews have been swept aside by scenes that show exactly how BN have kept power in Malaysia for over 50 years, achieving their current status as one of the world’s longest-lasting regimes.
Genuine democratic governments do not attack peaceful marchers with acid-laced water cannon and tear gas. They do not unleash police charges; firing rubber bullets and lashing out with whips and truncheons. Their forces do not push peaceful women and hurl insults at them or arrest people for wearing yellow T-shirts.
Najib was determined to show his people that he is boss and that he does not appreciate complaints about rigged elections. However, in the process he also showed the rest of the world that he is just another nasty dictator like the Middle Eastern fellows, who are currently being shown the door by their own people and like Marcos and Suharto, who have already been chucked out by Malaysia’s neighbouring powers of Indonesia and the Philippines.
It has made Najib an embarrassing guest for the British PM and Queen this week. Their briefing teams will have made them well aware of the issues – that BN have been in power for a very suspiciously long time and that people who have been criticising them have ended up beaten in the street and locked in jail without charge and without access to their lawyers under so-called Emergency Orders.
Morever, that in Malaysia people are being hauled into detention for wearing the colour yellow and people making polite requests to end electoral corruption are being treated as enemies of the state.
It was bad enough having Rupert Murdoch turn up in the middle of the biggest scandal in years over media corruption, but entertaining Najib must have been even more uncomfortable.
And, as our pictures above show, Malaysian sympathisers have been making sure throughout the week that Najib’s British hosts are constantly reminded of the real nature of their guest with ‘flash demos’ outside his various key engagements.
Today they were outside Downing Street, where Najib was due to have lunch with the UK PM, giving the crowds of tourists and passers by a thought-provoking insight into the real Malaysia away from the holiday advertisements.
UK police not so cooperative for BN
These hard-core demonstrators say they are not going away easily and infuriatingly for BN, the UK police have refused to do anything to budge them (see our photographs of a nice little chat they had with them outside Downing Street).
In fact the local Westminster Police have readily acknowledged to the demonstrators that they are being constantly pestered by the Malaysian High Commission, who have been asking for information about where protests are due to be held and for details about the organisers. The Malaysians have also tried to demand that the British police ban the protests form taking place!
However, the UK is a free country and the police have politely told the Najib’s people that they are not prepared to harrass citizens or remove their freedom of expression in order to spare the blushes of a visiting ‘dignatory’, who has just spent the past weekend harming and injuring people in his own country.
The demonstrations have passed peacefully in London and a result and there will be more during the remainder of Najib’s visit.