Najib Razak’s devastating and humiliating loss against former prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was described by the international media as a “stunning victory.” The 92-year old Mahathir who led Malaysia for 22 years, came out of retirement, organised a solid opposition and fought Razak’s Barisan Nacional for 222 seats in Parliament. Mohamad’s party got 121 seats while Razak’s party only managed to get 79 seats. Worse, all of Razak’s cabinet members got sacked.
Analysts say Razak’s loss is an expected one. Charges of corruption plagued his administration. Human rights violations also grew during his watch. Likewise, many Malaysians blamed Razak for implementing a tax reform law that raised prices of goods and services.
Razak’s problems appear acutely similar with what Philippine president Rodrigo Roa Duterte is facing. Duterte had just sacked his tourism secretary and promises to fire more. Inflation is rising as the effects of the Tex Reform and Inclusion lax are beginning to be felt by majority of Filipinos. On top of this, rising cases of human rights violations and a pending charge before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are making Duterte’s life more miserable by the day.
A Time magazine also portrayed Duterte as a “strongman” alongside others, like Russian president Vladimir Putin. While Duterte’s official spokesperson Harry Roque tried to twist the damaging portrayal, Mr. Duterte began a series of talks lambasting Times magazine and defending himself.
These malevolent attacks against Duterte are increasingly making the Philippines an unpalatable place for investments. Foreign investors say the Philippine economy is “overheating”. Others have assumed a wait and see attitude as businessmen see Mr. Duterte’s rule as politically unstable.
The mid-term elections which is slated in 2019 is an important milestone for the 72 year old Philippine president, the very same thing for Razak. With all these political headaches, Mr. Duterte is heading towards a possible defeat at the polls. This mid-term elections is an important barometer of support for Mr. Duterte. If Duterte’s allies are defeated in the coming elections, it may yet give Duterte’s political detractors enough space to do him in.