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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rosmah: Political asset or liability

Sulaiman Kamal | 12:41 AM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Nearly two weeks have passed and Malaysia's First Lady Rosmah Mansor has not got into trouble in the alternative media yet. Fresh tales of her misdeeds and over-the-top lifestyle have slowed as her worst enemies soften their pace and stop leaking all her secrets to a curious press. No doubt, they will pick up their shot-guns when it is timely and pellet her again, but for now -  all is quiet on the 'Rosmah front'.
In the past month, the stories about her that regaled the nation included a gargantuan RM24.4 million diamond ring, her in-laws from Kazakhstan with dark links to the Mafia, a super-duper New York penthouse, and exorbitantly priced  overseas trips on public expense. In hindsight, it was an amazing month, but then July was a very busy month for the Najibs. Not only did they travel to Europe but their daughter got engaged to the scion of a very wealthy Kazakh family.

Obviously, their absence from the country provided a most opportune time for their enemies to lift the veil on how Malaysia's first family lived and loved. And mind you, Prime Minister Najib Razak's darkest enemies come not from the Pakatan Rakyat political opposition, but from within his own UMNO party.
Whether a truce has been called remains to be seen but the breathing space has allowed a pollster, whom some say is trying to 'improve' the first couple's image after their recent bashing in the press, to postulate that Rosmah may not be a liability to her husband after all.
“A lot of stuff is said about Rosmah. The mainstream media paint her as a very caring, concerned person, and she is being covered in the media on a frequent basis. But the media not aligned to the government paint her as a very negative person. It depends on what part of the news reaches the voters," Malaysiakini reported Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian as saying.
A rollicking last laugh, and why not
But with all due respect, many Malaysians beg to differ. To her critics, even if the government-controlled media portrayed her as deserving of a wand and a pair of wings, most people would say a tail and two horns might be more fitting.
"If it was true that the newspapers can turn her into an angel beyond compare, then the crowds at the by-elections would mob her each time she comes into town. But it is quite well known that the people try to avoid her. Even the village women, they just look and smile nervouslyl. But one thing is true and this itself says a lot - everyone is afraid to step on her toes," Eddie Wong, a Pakatan Rakyat stalwart and active party campaigner, told Malaysia Chronicle.
Nonetheless, according to Ibrahim, it is Rosmah who may well have the last laugh. And what a shrill one it would be, considering the amount of grief the opposition has heaped on her the past two years.
It would be an exaggeration to say Putrajaya would quake or the Straits of Malacca would boil over, but for sure the cacophony would drown out many a nearby conversation.
“It all depends on how well the media is engaged. But, at the end of the day, it could very well backfire for the opposition as well, if whatever they are saying is untrue. If this happens, this may strike a blow at the credibility of her detractors instead," warned Ibrahim.

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