COMMENTARY, July 3 — Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has a big stake in the Chini state seat by-election, which is to prove his leadership image nationally and in Pekan, where he is the MP, was not ruined by his 1MDB charges.
While most Umno members and Pekan Umno division are with him and trust his leadership capability whatever the outcome of the Chini state seat by-election, the general public and the Opposition leaders, in particular Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, are looking for even a single weakness from the by-election result.
Failure to keep the two Independent candidates votes to below 1,500 or make them lose their deposits will reflect badly on Najib's influence in Pekan, and the opposition will go to town with it.
Najib's target should be to make both the Independents lose their deposit, which will result in his leadership and credibility staying intact despite the attacks from Dr Mahathir, who has made it a personal war against Najib.
Those are the stakes for him. The Opposition has nothing to lose because at present they are at rock bottom and in disarray, to the point of breaking up as the parties in the Opposition could not even agree on their prime minister candidate.
As for Dr Mahathir, who checkmated himself at the end of February, which resulted in the collapse of Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, he has lost everything, even the trust of Malays in his leadership.
Tomorrow, it is for Najib to prove himself worthy of the people's trust and sustain his credibility amidst his court cases and the onslaught of the Opposition's leaders against him.
Najib has in reality probably met nearly three-quarters of the 20,900-odd voters carrying the good governance of the Perikatan National (PN) government, in which Umno and PAS are locked in a brotherhood bond, sort of, with Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as the backbone of the alliance.
In the past two weeks since nomination on June 20, Umno and PAS have reactivated their election machinery, which reached into the living rooms of voters while Bersatu lent a helping hand as the party did not have strong grassroots support et in Chini.
Nevertheless, Bersatu leaders such its secretary-general, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin and several others, joined the campaign trail, providing voters with the extra confidence that PN was indeed a strong and trustworthy government.
Besides leadership capabilities, issues raised by voters were electricity supply as well as jobs for youngsters, besides the daily bread and butter issues which are the real issues faced by Malaysians all over.
The election is a three-cornered fight between Barisan Nasional’s Mohd Sharim Md Zain going against Independents Tengku Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin and Mohd Shukri Ramli, with Mohd Shukri the only outsider.
Whether Najib is able to prove himself worthy to his nickname “Bossku” will depend on voters’ turnout tomorrow, which many read as around 65 per cent and will make it impossible to knock out Tengku Zainul Hisham who is said to have his own personal followings.
But if the turnout is more than 70 per cent, then both Independents can expect to lose their deposits.