Najib recounts May 2018 night of shocking defeat, says did not call for Emergency out of love for democracy

Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi hugs Datuk Seri Najib Razak during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur May 12, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi hugs Datuk Seri Najib Razak during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur May 12, 2018. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today said he did not call for Emergency to be imposed on Malaysia on the night of his coalition’s shocking defeat in the May 2018 elections, asserting that this was out of his love for democracy and to avert bloodshed.

The former prime minister recounted his feelings on May 9, 2018 as the results of the 14th general elections slowly unfolded into the long hours of the night.

“It was a night that shocked the whole of Malaysia, and I admit it shocked me even more. That night filled me with an agonising frustration.

“It was a kind of defeat I had never before felt in my life, it was a kind of defeat that one is admittedly reluctant to face or accept. In that emotional chaos, what was I supposed to do?

“I was going down in history as the first Malaysian leader to leave with a change of government. After 60 years, BN was defeated and my name was going to be forever etched in history,” he said at the Malaysia Democracy Forum.

“What was I supposed to do? I was counselled with options by many people around me. One of the options was to declare an Emergency which I outright rejected because I knew it would lead to chaos, even to bloodshed and that would surely take a toll on my conscience.

“As a practitioner of democracy, I cannot stress the importance of admitting defeat and allowing for a smooth transition of power. In doing so, I played my part in ensuring the transition of power went smoothly,” he said.

Najib said that the same decorum was not accorded to him, claiming that he was harassed and his family and staff were treated with disrespect and disdain after he willingly cooperated with the then Pakatan Harapan administration by handing over the reins of the country.

“But make no mistake, deep down I knew then and there what to do, as my own world crumbled, the new world of the people was taking shape, the people of my beloved country had spoken The sacred voice of the Malaysian people had been heard, who was I to deny it?

“That night I was no longer prime minister and I was to step down as chairman of Barisan Nasional and Umno president. But one thing remained unchanged, I was a firm believer in democracy. I still am. Out of my love and respect for democracy, I did the only right thing to do, I faced and accepted it,” he added.

Najib went on to say however that the beauty of democracy is that those who have come up short in contests would be able to have an opportunity to reinvent themselves and to face the democratic process again.

He said Umno and Barisan Nasional have reinvented themselves and had won seven by-elections consecutively since the May 2018 defeat, adding that he himself has reinvented himself with a different public persona of “Bossku”.

“In a democracy, time and space for renewal are always available and this is what the country needs,” he said.

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