PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) - The big wins secured by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition in Saturday's (June 18) by-elections showed that the people rejected Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
"They rejected his unworkable coalition of former enemies and they rejected the incoherent opposition - partly because of their alignment with Mahathir," Najib said late on Saturday.
Umno, which leads the BN camp, swept to victory with bigger margins in two closely watched polls, casting aside controversies rocking the ruling party and taking advantage of a deep split in the opposition.
Umno's Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid, 55, won the parliamentary district of Kuala Kangsar in Perak by a 6,969-vote margin.
In Sungai Besar constituency in Selangor, Umno assemblyman Budiman Mohd Zohdi, 44, won with a 9,191-vote margin.
The victory for Umno in the two districts, which roughly reflect Malaysia's ethnic mix, came despite growing disquiet over his leadership.
For more than a year, the Premier has fended off calls for him to resign over some US$700 million (S$944 million) found in his personal accounts in 2013, with allegations the money is linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Even the campaigning for Amanah by his mentor-turned-nemesis, Dr Mahathir, failed to attract enough votes for the opposition.
Najib said Dr Mahathir had turned the elections into a referendum on his leadership, "campaigning for his former enemies in the Opposition and dishonourably smearing his own party with crude language and claiming to speak on behalf of the people in his own interests."
"As a mid-term government being targeted by unprecedented politically-motivated slander, we are especially humbled that we received such landslide results.
"Our official majority in Kuala Kangsar was 6,969 compared to 1,082 in the 2013 general election; and 9,191 in Sungai Besar compared to 399 in 2013," Najib in a statement on Saturday.
Najib said that with these huge majorities and Barisan's landslide 72 out of 82 seat wins in the Sarawak election last month, the people have shown their confidence for and trust in Barisan.
"I would like to thank all the BN machinery, well led by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
"BN succeeded because we worked as a team. We prevailed, and, if we continue to work tirelessly for the people and remain united, we will always prevail," said Najib.