I was collateral damage in ’99, says PM

By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak said he suffered collateral damage following the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from Umno and the Government in 1998.

He said he fell victim to the Barisan Nasional electoral setback in the 1999 general election when he retained his Pekan seat by only 241 votes.

“There were times when I felt frustrated with the situation. Quite often, not the results of my own doing,” said Najib at the Asean 100 Leadership Forum 2010, here yesterday.

He said those were the circumstances he had found himself in. “You are collateral damage, I don’t know if that’s the right word,” he added.

Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 by then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib said: “If you look at 1999, it was a strange situation. My majority dropped to 241.”

He said he had to work hard to regain the people’s votes and in the 2004 general election, he won the seat with a majority of 22,922 votes.

In the 2008 general election, he increased the winning margin to 26,464 votes, the highest obtained by any Barisan candidate that year.

“If you have the confidence, you should not be deterred by a temporary setback. What is important is the ability to recover. Fortunately, I’m still around,” said Najib, adding that it was vital to be in the right team to survive in politics.

In Putrajaya yesterday, the prime minister said government hospitals would soon be designed to be aesthetically pleasing apart from being friendly to its users.

Earlier this year, Najib had suggested that a competition be held to design government hospitals after the Cabinet was informed of the high cost of constructing such facilities.

Several chosen designs were presented yesterday to the prime minister, who was pleased with the outcome of the competition. “This will be the design of government hospitals when we roll out projects for the 10th Malaysia Plan. The designs also meet the Government’s aim to practise value management, which addressed capital cost and operational cost such as the use of energy.

“More importantly, hospitals must be user friendly to the public, doctors and medical staff,” Najib said after viewing the designs yesterday.