Can Najib retake the Malay vote for BN?

Analysts question the extent to which the former prime minister would be able to help if granted a royal pardon.

(MalaysiaNow) – Analysts and political observers have played down the odds posited by some in Umno that former prime minister Najib Razak would be able to win back Malay support for the party and give the coalition government an edge in the state elections to come.

Najib, who led the country for nearly a decade before his ouster at the 2018 polls, was credited with helping turn the tide for Barisan Nasional (BN) at the Johor and Melaka elections in 2022 and 2021.

He began serving a 12-year jail sentence last August for the misappropriation of tens of millions in SRC International funds.

He lost his final bid in court last month for a review of his case, conviction and sentence, sparking fresh efforts by Umno to get him a royal pardon.

But analyst Kartini Aboo Talib said “only those in Umno” were “still confused” about the shift in Malay support witnessed at last year’s general election.

“The majority of the Malays who now support Perikatan Nasional (PN) do so not because of Najib, but because they have rejected Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,” she said.

Najib and Zahid, who was appointed as one of two deputy prime ministers in Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet, are both part of the Umno court cluster, a reference to party leaders facing charges of corruption and abuse of power.

Zahid was recently acquitted of 40 charges in connection with the foreign visa system but still faces a string of others linked to charity foundation Yayasan Akalbudi

While he retained his seat of Bagan Datuk at the Nov 19 polls, it was only with a majority of some 300 votes.

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