Johari: Why put Najib front and centre in Sungai Kandis?

Titiwangsa Umno division chief Johari Abdul Ghani says the party should set its own benchmark instead of following the examples of others.

PETALING JAYA: An Umno division leader has questioned the party’s decision to put Najib Razak front and centre during campaigning for the recently concluded Sungai Kandis by-election.

Noting that the former prime minister is being tried for abuse of power and criminal breach of trust linked to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International, Titiwangsa division chief Johari Abdul Ghani said it might be wiser to “rest” Najib in the coming by-elections.

The Seri Setia and Balakong by-elections will be held on Sept 8.

“We need to bear in mind that Umno was not campaigning for its members, but the voters in Sungai Kandis where perception can determine whether a candidate wins or loses,” the former second finance minister said in a statement.

Johari also said that one should not compare Najib to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, who has been charged with corruption, when justifying the former Umno president’s presence in Sungai Kandis.

He said there was no need for Umno to follow DAP’s example.

“We need to set our own benchmark to show that the party’s benchmark is higher than that of DAP’s.”

Johari also criticised the pact between PAS and Umno, saying it did not help in winning more votes.

He said that in the May 9 polls, Umno won 11,518 votes in Sungai Kandis, despite being involved in a four-cornered fight.

Yet, in the recent by-election, it only managed 9,583 votes.

“We can spin it any way we want to feel better, but the truth of the matter is we lost, and we obtained lower votes after cooperating with PAS.”

Johari went on to say that Umno should remain a national party and one which not only looked out for the interest of Malays but all races.

He said there were speeches made by Umno leaders which had offended the non-Malays.

“They can take pride in winning in their respective constituencies, but their statements which offended the non-Malays led to many of their comrades in Umno and BN paying the price in urban areas in the last general election.”