KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — While Umno may be in two minds over the continued prominence of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Islamist PAS said it has no issues if the former prime minister wishes to aid its campaign for the Seri Setia by-election.
Although Najib is expected to either sit out or be given a reduced role in future polls contested by Umno, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said his party would welcome Najib if he wishes to stump for the Islamist party.
“We do not close our doors to any, it is up to their personal views whether it is necessary to come or not,” he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.
The Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ website also categorised Hadi as openly lauding Najib’s potential participation in the PAS campaign for Seri Setia.
The Islamist party’s attitude stands in contrast to that of a growing section in Umno who want Najib to fade into the background over concerns that his criminal charges will further hurt the party’s reputation following its disastrous general election defeat.
Previously, Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa described Najib as becoming a “burden” on the party while former second finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani also criticised Umno’s decision keep Najib prominent.
Most recently, former Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz suggested that Najib be less vocal in order to distance himself from the party.
He also said Najib should give Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi room to lead the party as its new president, a suggestion that former Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin supported.
Najib was front and centre during the Sungai Kandis by-election and appeared to casual observers to still be a prominent party leader despite having resigned from all his posts in Umno. The party’s candidate eventually lost.
Yesterday, Najib insisted that he was not stiffling Zahid’s leadership and said he was simply outspoken as he must defend himself from public attacks.
The former Umno president is on trial for money laundering, criminal breach of trust, and abuse of power over a RM42 million transfer from a former 1MDB unit to his personal accounts.
Authorities are still investigating the former PM on various scandals related to 1MDB and may proffer additional charges.
PAS announced last night former Selangor state executive councillor Dr Halimah Ali as its candidate for the Seri Setia by-election that will be held on September 8.