KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said critics were free to dispute Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appointment as Barisan Nasional’s chief advisor but must not disregard the former prime minister’s contributions to the coalition.
When met by reporters in the Parliament lobby today, Zahid also insisted Najib remained influential with multiracial Malaysia and was crucial to BN’s chances in the next general election.
“Anyone can give their personal views but what is important is that we have to move forward in helping to strengthen BN and Umno.
“If there is a leader or individual who has great ideas that are proactive, then we welcome it.
“But it is unsuitable if the views discredit the advantages of an individual who has given much contribution and energy as well as has the influence to bring together multicultural generations to win the 15th general election,” Zahid said.
Some senior members in BN reacted negatively to Najib’s unveiling as the coalition’s de facto chief by virtue of his position as the chairman of its advisory board.
Former Umno and BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said he was no longer “happy” where he was, after he used the term to politely decline an invitation to defect to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, formerly BN’s secretary-general, also disagreed with the appointment, pointing out that it was Najib who led the coalition to its one and only defeat in the previous general election.
Today, Zahid insisted Najib’s experience and contributions influenced the decision to make him BN’s chief advisor, claiming that these would help the coalition gain wider support and formalise its cooperation with PAS.
The Bagan Datoh MP also insisted that MCA and MIC leaders in the BN supreme council unanimously backed the decision.
“Surely there is a strong reason to have Najib contribute his opinion in a platform he previously led,” he said.
He added that other members will be appointed into the advisory board, including representatives from MCA, MIC and possibly eminent persons who do not have any political affiliation.