Upon conviction, Najib unable to defend his Pekan seat if a snap election is called now, even if execution of his sentencing pending appeal
by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by ARIF KARTONO
THE future of Umno will depend on how it will move ahead beyond the shadow of former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s leadership, analysts said.
After two years, Umno will once again have to decide whether to continue supporting its former president.
Political analysts are of the opinion that yesterday’s High Court conviction against Najib could have a negative impact on Umno’s image should it continue to associate itself with the ex-PM.
“Umno, as a party collectively, will have to decide for its survival, especially if a snap election is held. As of now, the court ruling has tarnished Umno’s image as they previously denied this wrongdoing,” Prof Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) yesterday.
“However, it also depends on how Najib and Umno respond to this altogether. If Najib takes a soft approach and does not play blame game, but just goes with the process, it can help his image and Umno.
“After all, it is also hard for them to blame the Opposition because they are now part of the government.”
Yesterday, hundreds of Najib’s supporters gathered outside of the Kuala Lumpur court complex in a show of support for Najib, including Pontian MP and Umno secretary general Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.
Some supporters called for Umno MPs to leave the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, so a snap election could be held.
Former Umno supreme council Datuk Lokman Noor Adam also challenged PN government to dissolve the Parliament and hold an early general election (GE). He also called for Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs to “do something and act on it”.
However, Mohd Azizuddin said PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin may be very careful about dissolving Parliament. “I think if he is confident enough, he would have called the Parliament by now, but with the update of Najib’s case, he must decide cautiously.
“At the same time, PN bloc, especially Umno, must decide how they should react to this matter.”
Najib, in the past two years after the fall of the BN government in the 14th GE in May 2018, has denied any wrongdoing in the scandals involving SRC International Sdn Bhd and 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
At the same time, Umno has utilised Najib’s growing popularity to attract public support through social media. Through the “Bossku” campaign, Najib has become one of the main influencers that could be attributed to in helping BN win a series of by-elections.
Kingsley Strategic Institute economic advisor Prof Dr Hoo Ke Ping said Umno should not be too emotional over the verdict and must allow the case to be conducted through due processes.
“If Umno decides to leave the government and protest, it will come to no surprise that any Opposition bloc, including PKR-led Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, could throw their support for Muhyiddin and join the government again without Umno.
“At the same time, I do not think that PAS will follow that move because that indicates that they are supporting corruption (of Najib). They are also answerable to their voters and supporters,” Hoo told TMR.
He said it would be unreasonable for Umno to leave the PN bloc if Muhyiddin, who as the PM has the prerogative to dissolve Parliament, refuses to do so.
“It would be an advantage for PN to remain intact going into the GE as Najib’s case has legitimised the PN administration by proving that they did not interfere in any ongoing court cases as (previously) brought up by many,” Hoo added.
Najib, who is the son of Malaysia’s second PM and BN founder Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, was found guilty of all seven counts of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving RM42 million of SRC’s funds.
Upon conviction, Najib is unable to defend his Pekan parliamentary seat if a snap election is called now, even if the execution of his sentencing is pending appeal.
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