Najib resigns party posts, Zahid to take over

Najib Razak (in blue jacket) announces his resignation as Umno president and BN chairman.

KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak has resigned as president of Umno and chairman of Barisan Nasional following the coalition’s massive defeats at the recent general election.

Najib described his decision as a “moral responsibility” having been the head of the coalition, which lost control of the federal government to Pakatan Harapan. It was the first federal defeat for Umno-BN and the first transfer of power in Malaysian history.

Party vice-president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who has been acting as deputy president, will take over duties as acting president of Umno and chairman of BN, while vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein will take over the duties of deputy president and deputy chairman of BN.

Najib attributed the electoral defeats to a problem of “perception”.

He said: “There is much to repair even though much can be blamed towards the people’s perception and not reality. However, this is the name of the game in politics.

“Whoever wins in the war of perception, they can control the support of the people.

“This is why we are sad with what has happened. However, as a party that practises democratic principles, we accept the will of the people with open hearts.”

Najib gave an assurance that he was not leaving Umno. “I will continue to support Umno and BN. Umno will still live on.”

Earlier this morning, in a message on Twitter, he had said: “I pray that after this divisive period, the country will unite. I apologise for any shortcomings and mistakes, and I thank you, the people, for the opportunity to lead our great nation. It has been the honour of my lifetime to serve you and Malaysia.”

Shortly later, Najib and his wife were prevented from leaving the country for what he said would be a “short break” to be with their families after the bitter election campaign.

The Immigration Department confirmed at 11am that the couple had been placed on a blacklist.