Najib’s job expected to be safe even if BN does not improve in GE13

(TMI) – Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 2009 move to open up Umno’s leadership selection will likely secure his future as prime minister even if Barisan Nasional (BN) fails to do better in the May 5 general election, Bloomberg reported today.

The rule change, aimed to stop any one Umno leader from buying votes to boost support within the party, increased by 60-fold the pool of members in choosing their head.

It also allows the 59-year-old to bypass any party insiders who seek his ouster if the 13-party BN wins by a narrower margin in Election 2013, the international business news wire reported, citing analysts and Umno politicians.

“Because of the opening up of the party election process to a larger number of voters, the personal popularity of a particular candidate becomes even more influential,” Joseph Chinyong Liow was quoted as saying.

“This might translate into support within Umno if his position is under threat,” the associate dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore told Bloomberg.

Najib’s predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was pressured into resigning from office following the BN’s dismal showing in the 2008 polls which lost the ruling coalition its two-thirds parliamentary supermajority and five states.

Najib’s deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, had started the move against Abdullah, Bloomberg reported Umno supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah as saying. 

But the deputy minister of higher education was also reported as saying Muhyiddin was unlikely to repeat the ouster move as Najib’s position is stronger than Abdullah’s.