Better for Najib to stay away from future campaigns, still seen as a symbol of Barisan Nasional’s failures.
Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi hopes his predecessor Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will not feel offended by remarks made by some party leaders over his participation in the Sungai Kandis by-election.
Zahid said he understood and sympathised with Najib’s predicament.
“We hope he will go through the situation with a calm heart and not be affected by the remarks,” he said at the Parliament lobby.
Zahid also reminded Umno leaders not to “step on someone’s head when they are down”.
Titiwangsa division chief Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani yesterday had questioned Najib’s prominent role during the Sungai Kandis campaign and said it might be wiser to “rest” him in the coming by-elections due to the perception of the people.
Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said today that Najib has become a “burden” to the party with his multiple criminal charges related to a former 1MDB unit.
“I hope (Najib) is not slighted or hurt by such comments. We understand the pressure he is facing, but we respect the due process and hope he goes through the process with calm and strength,” Ahmad Zahid said.
However, he insisted that he would not take any action against Johari or Annuar for their comments.
Meanwhile, Najib has defended himself following criticism that his campaigning at Sungai Kandis had tainted the by-election.
He said he had only gone to campaign at the request of Datuk Lokman Noor Adam who was the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate.
“I only went to help him after he asked for my help in campaigning in the by-election,” he said in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday (Aug 9).
Najib added that the contest for the seat was a difficult one as PKR was the incumbent and their winning margin was big in GE14.
“As the Prime Minister at the time, I was the target of slander by the opposition but Umno does not need to defend me against it as I will be able to defend myself in a fair trial.
Najib added that he will continue to speak up on issues that concern the people in his capacity as an MP.
“The only thing I am guilty of is giving my best to the people, country and party,” he said.
Meanwhile, political analysts have warned that it is better for Najib to distance himself from future campaigning for by-elections as he is still seen as a symbol of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) inadequacies.
Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian said Najib still represented BN’s “disconnect” with the people as well as its purportedly excessive ways.
“It would be fair to keep him away in the near term. It is hard for voters to take Umno seriously, especially when the party remains fixated on race and religion.
“Ideally, Najib should back off,” he told FMT.
Independent political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff agreed that Najib’s presence could have a negative impact on campaigning in future by-elections.
He said Najib still had a “bad image” which people associated with BN’s defeat in the general election.
“If Najib is allowed to talk on behalf of the party, people will think that Umno is still the same and that it is all about Najib.
“What Najib should do now is stay put and remain silent. The one who should do the talking is Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in his capacity as Umno president.”
Like Ibrahim, Kamarul said BN’s defeat in Sungai Kandis could have been due to Lokman being seen as close to Najib.
“Lokman was vocal in defending Najib. As a result, he shared Najib’s image.
“It is better to choose candidates for Seri Setia and Balakong who are not closely linked to the former prime minister,” he said