Najib still a political force, says Nur Jazlan

(MMO) – Johor Umno deputy chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed has owned up to being the person who arranged for convicted former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s visit to a Johor school to campaign for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the state election.

The former Pulai MP told Malaysiakini that he did so in the spirit of camaraderie to help BN’s less known candidate from MCA, Nicole Tan Hiang Kee, who is running for Perling, a state seat under the Pulai parliamentary constituency, and up against DAP’s Liew Chin Tong and Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Khoo Siaw Lee.

“For me, Najib is a force in this state election where people miss the economic achievements and political stability during his administration.

“We will see the results later on,” Nur Jazlan told the news portal in an interview published today.

Malaysiakini reported that Najib had posed for photographs with Tan during a walkabout in a food court at Taman Bukit Indah, and that passers-by had greeted him as Bossku.

Najib had also visited the Seri Alam campus of the prestigious Foon Yew High School in Johor and delivered a speech in an attempt to court ethnic Chinese voters to support BN.

This drew the ire of the DAP’s national publicity secretary Tony Pua who panned the school administration for their supposed lack of integrity after they welcomed Najib, who has been convicted of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power in relation to RM42 million belonging to SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

Pua claimed the school’s reputation would be tarnished if it is seen as being friendly to Najib.

However, in his interview, Nur Jazlan defended his decision to arrange for Najib’s visit to the Chinese school.

The Umno politician pointed out that DAP had helped its Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition partner, Parti Amanah Negara.

“So, there is nothing wrong with me wanting to help MCA’s candidate by arranging Najib’s visit.

“Most importantly, in terms of optics, it’s clear Najib remains popular,” Nur Jazlan was quoted saying.

He told the news portal that the “court cluster” narrative used by detractors to describe Najib and other Umno party leaders who have been charged with corruption would unlikely sway voters’ opinion in the March 12 vote.

He noted that the other ruling coalition, PN, had similarly used the “court cluster” narrative but claimed it had not only been proven ineffective based on BN’s landslide victory in last year’s Melaka state election, but also “backfired” as support or Najib remains “very high” during face-to-face events.

In the interview, Nur Jazlan also took a swipe at the DAP and PN leaders.

He described Liew and Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang as “gypsy elected representatives” for running in other constituencies in past elections.

“In the past, there was this aura from DAP supporters who idolised Lim as their leader.

“From my observations, in the two, three days I went down to Bukit Indah, once a DAP stronghold, many people said ‘enough, we want an elected representative who can serve’, not a gypsy such as Lim or Liew,” the Umno politician was quoted as saying.

He added that PN’s strategy in using its chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as their poster child in the Johor polls, in the absence of a mentri besar candidate, was also ineffective.

He said that voters had rejected Muhyiddin’s Abah Sayang Melaka tagline, which has since been changed to Abah Prihatin.

“We have Hasni, we don’t use any other image, be it Najib or Zahid, we use Hasni’s image.

“We have declared [Hasni as our mentri besar candidate] and we don’t want the people to be confused,” Nur Jazlan told Malaysiakini, referring to Johor BN chief Hasni Mohamed who is defending his Benut state seat.