On July 9, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was unanimously elected as Barisan Nasional (BN) advisory board chairperson by the coalition supreme council.
The appointment was made less than 10 days since Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi returned from his garden leave and resumed his role as UMNO president. Zahid announced his sudden return on June 30.
Following this, former UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin criticized Najib’s return to BN. He urged the former premier to not use the coalition as a ‘shield’ for his ongoing court proceedings.
His concerns were on Najib’s ongoing SRC International and 1MDB trials, which could potentially damage BN if he were to be found guilty.
Ironically, Najib resigned as UMNO president and BN chairperson on May 12 last year to avoid being a liability to the party and the coalition.
Besides, Khairy made a similar criticism on Zahid when the latter made his return as UMNO president, asking Zahid to go back on leave until he cleared his name from his criminal charges.
On the other hand, former ‘unofficial’ BN secretary-general Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz asked Najib to vacate his role as BN adviser. Nazri described the former Prime Minister as a “tainted” person.
Nevertheless, Najib did not stand by silently. He reminded the public that Nazri’s criticisms on tycoon Robert Kuok offended the Chinese community, thus damaging MCA’s reputation.
Khairy and Nazri shared the similarity of not holding any top leadership position in UMNO or BN. Khairy contested for the party presidency but lost to Zahid.
Whereas, Nazri was “elected” as BN secretary-general in October 2018 before it was revealed in March 2019 that he never held the position in the first place.
The revelation was made after MCA and MIC voiced their dissatisfaction towards Nazri for his racial remarks. During the campaign for the Semenyih by-election, Nazri said non-Muslims must not be given the role as Attorney General, Chief Justice nor Finance Minister as it caused fear among the Malay community.
Additionally, the former Tourism Minister asked the non-Malays to not question the Malay privileges as the former group has its own privileges like vernacular schools.
Does the status of not holding any position in UMNO and BN have anything to do with Khairy’s and Nazri’s outspoken opinions on Najib’s appointment? Will BN able to rebrand itself with Najib’s return?