SHAH ALAM - Former prime minister Najib Razak said on Wednesday (July 25) Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno's campaign for the Sungai Kandis by-election is not necessarily doomed by Umno's inability to access funds frozen by anti-corruption investigators, reported the Malay Mail.
He said his party will instead use the "friendly" approach to woo voters for BN candidate Datuk Lokman Noor Adam.
Najib arrived at the Barisan by-election command centre at Kampung Sungai Kandis here just before 9.00am on Wednesday (July 25) to help his party's candidate campaign for the Aug 4 by-election. Also at the command centre was Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
"The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission may have frozen Umno's accounts but that doesn't mean we are going to lose.
"We are friendly and we are not spending lavishly as you can see from our tents and other arrangements in this election," he told reporters during a walkabout here.
Malaysia's new Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in June Malaysia intends to recover all funds taken illicitly from sovereign investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Lim had claimed that Umno was one of the parties to have received 1MDB money.
Najib on Wednesday also rejected the view that his party only championed Malay rights, reported the Malay Mail.
"Since Merdeka, and the formation of the constitution, yes, we have fought for all races assistance more to Malays because they are the majority and left out from jajahan dahulu," he said, referring to the marginalisation of the Malay community during colonial British rule.
When asked to comment on the reception from local residents, he said that many were friendly towards him.
"But from my walkabout today, I notice that many are friendly towards me this is a large area and various people from various background and this is only my first visit, so let's see what happens," he said.
The MP for the parliamentary seat of Pekan has been charged with criminal wrongdoing and power abuse over misappropriation of billions of ringgit in funds from 1MDB.
Lokman is contesting against Pakatan Harapan's Zawawi Ahmad Mughni and independant candidate K. Murthy.
The Sungai Kandis state seat fall vacant after the incumbent assemblyman, Selangor PKR information chief Mat Shuhaimi Shafie, passed away due to cancer on July 2.
The Sungai Kandis by-election is the first poll after the May 9 general election that saw the defeat of the BN coalition, which had ruled Malaysia since independence, and ushered in a new government under Pakatan Harapan.
Najib resigned from all his leadership posts in BN and Umno, except for Pekan, after the stunning election loss.
Najib on Wednesday also downplayed the noticable absence of BN component parties- Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) - on the campaigning trail.
He said both parties were still regrouping and restructuring following BN's defeat in the general election.
"MIC has changed its leadership but its deputy and vice presidents are not changed... so let's give them time to address this," he told reporters during his walkabout.
On a potential collaboration between PAS and Umno, Najib said he had left the matter to his party's new president Datuk Seri Zahid Hamid to decide, reported Malay Mail.
But the former Umno president also claimed that PAS supporters would choose Umno over PKR when it comes to matters related to Malay rights and the religion.