Malaysia votes 2018

Lawmakers reminded by Najib to stay loyal

Malaysian PM Najib Razak waving his party's flag before launching his coalition's election manifesto, on April 7, 2018.
Malaysian PM Najib Razak waving his party's flag before launching his coalition's election manifesto, on April 7, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

PUTRAJAYA • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has reminded lawmakers from ruling coalition Barisan Nasional to remain loyal if they are dropped from contesting in the May 9 General Election.

He said this at a meeting on Monday morning, ahead of the pact's announcement of candidates, expected seven to 10 days before nomination day on April 28.

 

Datuk Seri Najib, the BN chairman, gathered the coalition's 130 lawmakers at his official residence Seri Perdana, in what was seen as his last pep talk with them, to stress loyalty and continuous support for BN and its component parties.

Mr Najib held a similar meeting ahead of the last polls in 2013.

Sources said this was his gentle way of telling some of them that they might not be contesting. The sources said that the incumbents appeared calm as they listened to his speech.

"But it was obvious that they were anxious. On Najib's part, there was no hint whatsoever on who is in or who is out," said a source.

Those who attended the meeting described Mr Najib as a picture of calm, which party insiders said belied the headache he faced in trying to ensure that those who were dropped would not resort to sulking - or worse, sabotage.

 

Contrary to expectations, Mr Najib did not at the meeting say who would be dropped. Neither did he inform anyone in ruling party Umno or BN that they had been picked for the upcoming polls.

"The message at the meeting was clear - accept any decision on candidacy. This is the time to put Barisan and party matters above self-interest," said the source.

According to another source, Mr Najib told those present: "Those among you who are dropped, I hope you will still be my friend."

BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the meeting "was to remind our lawmakers not to sabotage Barisan if they are not fielded this time".

"It was also to drive home the message that they should not boycott if a seat is given to another component party.

"If we want to win, the Barisan chairman's message must be adhered to," he said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Lawmakers reminded by Najib to stay loyal'. Print Edition | Subscribe