DESPITE colossal graft allegations involving billions in state funds, scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak’s party on Saturday won two parliamentary by-elections in a landslide, further strengthening his rule.
Najib’s party was expected to win due to a fractured opposition, as well as his ruling coalition’s well-oiled machinery and funding. Voters in the two rural constituencies are also mostly ethnic Malays, the bedrock of support for his Malay party.
Najib says his party won with much bigger majorities, showing that the people rejected “politically-motivated slander” against his government.
Last month, Najib also secured a major win for his ruling coalition in a state election.
The victories strengthen his hold on power amid accusations of corruption over allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars had been channeled into his accounts from an indebted state fund.
According to the New Straits Times, Najib said Barisan Nasional’s victories in the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections is a testament to the people’s confidence and trust in the coalition. He also said it was a rejection of an incoherent opposition.
During the polls, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who retains a sizable influence in the nation’s politics had campaigned against Najib. However, Najib said the two huge-majority wins, and the party’s win of 72 out of 82 seats in the Sarawak election last month, were also a rejection of Mahathir’s “lies”.
“They (the people) rejected his unworkable coalition of former enemies, and they rejected the incoherent opposition, partly because of their (the parties’) alignment with Tun Mahathir,” Najib was quoted as saying.
Najib said Mahathir had turned the by-elections into a referendum on his leadership.
“He campaigned for his former enemies in the opposition, dishonourably smearing his own party with crude language and claiming to speak on behalf of the people. But, this betrayal was motivated by personal interest, not the national interest.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press