Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is under fire for recent comments in which he reportedly told his ruling party that it would be stronger if members were more brave, like militants with the al Qaeda splinter group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Mr. Razak, president of the United Malays National Organization, said during a dinner event Monday night that fearlessness is a virtue needed to allow the party to continue its reign.
“For example, when someone dares to fight to their death, they can even defeat a much bigger team,” he is quoted as saying by the Malay Mail Online.
“As proof — whether we agree or not is another matter — the group ISIL, with the strength of just 1,300 people, can defeat an Iraqi army of 30,000 soldiers, until four, five generals with three, four stars run for their lives, jump out the window at night. Why? Because they are afraid of those who are brave.”
The comments received swift criticism from opposition leaders.
The Democratic Action Party’s national organizing secretary, Anthony Loke, said the prime minister’s statement would only encourage more extremism in the country, the Singapore-based Today Online reported.
“How could Najib have picked ISIS as an example? As a Prime Minister, this was one of his worst messages,” he said. “It also contradicts the concept of moderation that was introduced by his administration.”
Mohamad Sabu, deputy president of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, said Mr. Razak’s statement “should not have come out from his mouth.”
“As an UMNO president, how can Najib come up with such statements asking his members to be like Middle Eastern militant groups?” Mr. Sabu asked.