KUALA LUMPUR: Najib Razak’s presence during the Sungai Kandis by-election campaign was at the invitation of the the party’s candidate Lokman Noor Adam, president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said following questions on whether it was wise to have the former prime minister front and centre in view of the pending charges against him.
Zahid said Lokman had good intentions when he invited Najib to campaign alongside other party leaders.
“We should respect our friends, including those who were once rich and now poor, those who were once in power and now no longer have the same command of power.
“What was raised, was a personal opinion, but I feel that we should not step on someone’s head when they are down,” he said at the Parliament lobby.
Zahid was commenting on a statement by Titiwangsa Umno division chief Johari Abdul Ghani who said that it might be wiser to “rest” Najib in the coming by-elections due to the perception against him.
The former prime minister is being tried for abuse of power and criminal breach of trust linked to former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International.
Meanwhile, Perlis Umno chairman and former menteri besar Shahidan Kassim said Najib’s presence (as a former leader) should have been determined by the party president as each move the party made was a form of strategy.
Shahidan told reporters at the Parliament lobby that BN no longer enjoyed the privilege of “placing just anyone” and expect to win in an election.
“It isn’t the same as before. We have to strategise, and if we place the wrong person, we may lose.
“Compared to before, whoever we fielded we would win.
“That is why it is important for the president to decide who should be present at election campaigns, as these are all strategies.”
Shahidan said if it was up to him, anyone from the party could be present.
“But when it comes to certain former leaders, it is better if the president could advise on this matter,” he said.