To recapture middle Malaysia in GE14, Umno needs Najib, Saifuddin says

  • It’s Obama’s right to see Anwar or not, says Dr Mahathir – Bernama
    It’s Obama’s right to see Anwar or not, says Dr Mahathir – Bernama

    Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said it was up to the president of the United States whether to see opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or not. "It is his (Obama) right, up to him who he wants to see, he does not even want to see me, a former prime minister," Dr Mahathir (pic) told reporters in Putrajaya today. He was... …

  • Karpal’s Bukit Gelugor seat will stay DAP’s, analysts say
    Karpal’s Bukit Gelugor seat will stay DAP’s, analysts say

    GEORGE TOWN, April 24 — Analysts believe that Barisan Nasional (BN) does not stand a fighting chance in Bukit Gelugor, and even said it may not be worth the ruling pact’s time to contest the seat... …

  • Tuhan Harun case postponed again to July 22 – Bernama
    Tuhan Harun case postponed again to July 22 – Bernama

    The Lower Shariah Court today postponed again the case of leader of the “Tuhan Harun” deviant sect, Harun Mat Saat, to July 22. Judge Abdul Wahid Mohd Ali set the date after hearing the application from Pahang Islamic Religious Department deputy prosecutor Mohd Fahmi Abd Jalil that he needed more time to examine the legal representation... …

  • What if flight MH370 is never found?
    What if flight MH370 is never found?

    Despite assurances from Malaysia and Australia that the search will continue for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, the lack of significant leads after almost seven weeks are leading many to ask: What if the jetliner that disappeared over the southern Indian Ocean is never found? At the start of the massive international search effort, such a... …

  • New law to give Sarawak natives freedom in purchasing customary rights land
    New law to give Sarawak natives freedom in purchasing customary rights land

    Bumiputera from Sarawak could eventually buy Native Customary Rights (NCR) land outside their ethnic group or community when the state amends its Land Code in November. Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem (pic, right), in disclosing the government's intention to table the amendment at its Budget sitting, said with the amendment the Iban, for... …

  • Cops cannot declare May Day rally illegal, lawyer says
    Cops cannot declare May Day rally illegal, lawyer says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — There are no provisions under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012 that allows the authorities to declare the anti-GST rally planned for May 1 as illegal, human rights... …

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — If Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition it leads is to win over Malaysia’s middle ground at the next general election, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must remain at the helm, the Malay party’s supreme councillor Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has said.

Najib, a second-term prime minister, was not challenged in his presidency when nominations closed for Umno’s polls on Saturday but his leadership in the party — and by extension the ruling bloc — is seen to be pandering to vocal conservative Malay nationalists, causing a retreat in support from more moderate voices within the country’s biggest race group, as well as other ethnic minorities.

But Saifuddin, a former deputy minister in the Najib administration, said the best person to lead the country is one who understands the concept and importance of practising moderation and Najib, he pointed out, is among Umno’s more moderate captains.

“Najib... he is primarily very progressive. He is a democrat. He is a moderate leader,” Saifuddin said of his boss in a recent interview with The Malay Mail Online ahead of Umno’s polls.

“I can understand that he is also under tremendous pressure from every side you can imagine. He knows that he cannot please everyone.

“But I think he is trying his level best to be as centrist as possible,” the outspoken Umno leader said.

“It would be a big loss,” he said, when considering the future of an Umno without Najib.

He added: “Especially because we lost the middle ground in GE13 and we must regain the middle ground in GE14 and we need Najib.”

Saifuddin said the future of an Umno without Najib ‘would be a big loss.’ — Reuters pic

Like Election 2008, the 13th national polls were a sore point in BN’s history. The ruling pact, despite feverish planning and radical policy changes, failed to recapture its coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority, despite still winning its place in Putrajaya.

A significant trend in the election results was not just the flight of the Chinese from the ruling bloc but a clear switch in the appetite of Malaysians, particularly the urban class, against race-based politics.

Explaining this, Saifuddin said Malaysia’s middle ground had swelled with more “colour-blind” voters now calling for moderation and a migration from race-based to needs-based policies.

“Thirty per cent of the Malaysian population are actually the middle ground. And the middle ground consist of the young; the university students; the well-educated; the academics; the professionals; the technocrats; the entrepreneurs; and the civil society,” he said.

“I know these people very well. Majority are colour-blind. They do not vote based on race at all.”

Saifuddin noted that it was not an easy task to manage these diverse needs for Najib, who had inherited a struggling ruling party in 2009, but said his boss has done well so far to prove his worth as both the president of the Malay party as well as a prime minister for all races.

This, he said, was based on the results of Election 2013 that saw Umno gain nine more seats in the Dewan Rakyat than the 79 federal seats it drew five years ago in Election 2008.

“We did better in 2013,” the 52-year-old said, and added, “Because of that, there’s no reason for him to be challenged. Unless if someone has other ideas.”

Saifuddin said Najib has done well so far to prove his worth as both the president of the Malay party as well as a prime minister for all races. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Saifuddin said that no one could tell Umno members not to contest a position in the party election.

“But the general feeling is that Najib has done a good job as far as Umno is concerned,” he said.

Najib was returned to the helm of the country’s largest Malay-based party of 3.4 million members when nominations for the Umno polls closed on Saturday without any contest.

Together with his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the man who was initially touted as a possible challenger to Najib’s presidency, the prime minister finally cemented his seat at the political pinnacle with his walkover victory.

Some observers said the unchallenged contest was an indirect nod towards Najib’s four-year leadership but others reminded that just a week before nominations, the Umno president had doled out pro-Malay and Bumiputera promises in a move some claimed had likely been tailored for the polls.

A significant trend in GE13 was not just the flight of the Chinese from the ruling bloc but a clear switch in the appetite of Malaysians, particularly the urban class, against race-based politics. — file pic

In a highly-anticipated announcement on September 14, the 60-year-old trotted off a list of over RM31 billion in various loans, contracts and programmes that will be made available to the Bumiputera, with the stated aim of strengthening Bumiputera economic participation and boost their ownership of commercial property.

The decision was a far cry from the 1 Malaysia concept introduced in 2010 — two years after Najib first became prime minister — which championed ethnic harmony, national unity and needs-based instead of race-based assistance.

But the firm commitment towards uplifting the lot of the Malay community — which Najib described as integral in charting the country’s fortunes — follows recent criticism against the Umno president for failing to fully acknowledge the support the group had extended to the ruling BN during the recent general election.

In the May 5 polls, BN had not only failed to recapture its coveted parliamentary supermajority but also lost further ground to the nascent three-party Pakatan Rakyat opposition pact, when it took 133 seats to the opposition pact’s 89.

But Umno did well for itself, successfully increasing its federal representation by a sizeable nine parliamentary seats.

As such, despite BN’s poorer performance, Najib’s contemporaries in Umno agreed to leave the party’s top two positions uncontested in this year’s party election, in order to preserve stability in Umno.

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh The Malaysian Insider
    My last moments with Pa: Ramkarpal Singh

    A week after the tragic crash that took the lives of veteran lawyer and politician Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Michael Cornelius, his son Ramkarpal recounts the final hours with his father that fateful day. This is his story, as told to V. Anbalagan, assistant news editor. “My parents (Karpal and Gurmit) had gone to Pantai Hospital... …

  • The Poop on Pooping: 5 Misconceptions Explained LiveScience.com

    Here is the truth behind five common misconceptions about defecating. Misconception No. 1: Daily pooping is normal, and optimal. …