PETALING JAYA: The jailing of Najib Razak has boosted Pakatan Harapan’s chances of returning to power, according to an analyst.
Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya told FMT he believed the former prime minister was a formidable obstacle to PH’s aspiration when he was free to attack the coalition in speech and writing.
“Najib’s conviction has left Umno toothless,” he said, adding that the weakening of Umno would be a blow to the Barisan Nasional election machinery.
He said it was Najib’s relentless attacks on PH that had caused the coalition to lose the public’s trust, adding that its reputation had yet to recover.
He praised Najib’s online postings for being well researched and said no other BN leader could match his popularity on social media.
“He has 4.6 million followers and his posts get tens of thousands of likes. No one in the opposition has such a following.
“With Umno losing its social media influence in general, PH could win GE15, especially if it is held later. Najib’s absence gives PH an advantage,” he said.
National Council of Professors fellow Jeniri Amir had a different take on the situation. He said Najib’s conviction could see Umno and BN benefit from sympathy votes.
“It may also see those who support Umno but don’t like Najib returning to the fold,” he told FMT.
However, he also spoke of Najib’s absence as a danger to Umno and BN, saying they now lacked a figure to take on the opposition.
“Najib’s role in the Johor and Melaka state elections cannot be understated,” he said. “If BN wants to win the elections, it will need to have it (GE15) soon to ride on the sympathy factor.”
Jeniri said a delayed general election would give BN’s opponents time to sway sentiments against the government led by Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
“If elections are delayed and without Najib in BN’s corner, it’s not impossible for PH to regain the support of the people,” he said.
Yesterday, the Federal Court upheld Najib’s conviction and sentence in the SRC International trial. Najib, convicted for abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering, is to serve 12 years in prison and pay a RM210 million fine.