Najib in Gaza – Good for Him, Bad for Malaysia

Yesterday, our PM Najib visited Gaza via Egypt. He and Rosmah are both conferred honorary doctorates by the Al-Aqsa University. This is a historic visit as Najib is the FIRST non-Arab country leader to visit Gaza. So, Malaysia Boleh! (for the wrong reasons?)

While the local news celebrate Najib’s curious visit to Gaza on so-called humanitarian grounds and symbolic of Malaysia’s support of the Palestinian plight, President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine expresses REGRET that this visit was made (read here).

Apparently, Najib visited Gaza’s PM Ismail Haniyeh but snubbed President Mahmoud Abbas of West Bank. In fact, Mahmoud Abbas is the overall representative leader of the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas is from the Fatah Front and Haniyeh is from the Hamas Front. Both groups do not see eye-to-eye. Hamas is viewed by many as the more militant of the two groups although both are equally volatile.

Recently, President Morsi of Egypt brokered a ceasefire of sorts between Hamas and Israel. Looking at how things are going, it appears that there is a split between Hamas and Fatah and the Palestinian plight is going nowhere.

Furthermore, PM Netanyahu has begun construction in West Bank and any sign of a peace treaty discussion with Mahmoud Abbas is now unseen for the foreseeable future. Israel is also well defended at her southern borders with Gaza and is ever prepared now for an all out assault if Hamas steps up mortar fire again. The ever on-going intifada has killed many Palestinians and not moved forward for any peace accord. Then again, peace with Israel was never the intent here.

So what will Najib achieve in this trip? Is this symbolic of siding with Hamas and alienating Fatah? It has certainly upset Mahmoud Abbas. What else is this visit portraying? Malaysia is now seen as an enemy of Fatah and a friend of Hamas? How can Malaysia be seen taking sides in other people’s internal affairs?

When you help from afar, it can be seen as humanitarian for the entire Palestinian need. When you step into Gaza, you make a statement of political support because Najib is a politician representing the political position of Malaysia on the international scene. In this case, purely for Hamas.

This visit is too premature, poorly calculated and wrongly strategized. It has no bearing on our international posture and may even hurt the nation’s image. It has no value to improve BN or Umno’s political position for the upcoming General Election, so it is a waste of precious time and national resources.

Finally, it is bad timing to also keep his silence on all the sensitive reverberations at home. Seems that Najib is running away from problems at home at a time when his very presence matters most.

Every move Najib makes now must be well thought through, properly strategized and executed with excellence. Otherwise, it will leave room for him to be attacked, criticized and questioned. And this is not the time to give any space to the Opposition to play with.


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