Setback in Election 1999 not my fault, says Najib
He said he was only a victim of the Barisan Nasional (BN) electoral setback in 1999 held just a year after Anwar’s sacking 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 a forum on Asean here.
“It’s the circumstances that you find yourself in. You are collateral damage, I don’t know if that’s the right word,” he said when asked about his political setback in 1999.
The sacking of Anwar as deputy prime minister in 1998 by then-Prime Minister Dr Mahathir led to the formation of an Umno splinter party, Parti Keadilan Nasional, which grouped together with PAS and DAP.
The opposition coalition defeated BN in Terengganu while retaining Kelantan and made inroads in Malay-majority constituencies of Perak and Selangor.
“If you look at 1999, it was kind of a strange situation. My majority dropped to, I think, 241,” said Najib.
“I couldn’t for the life of me understand, but I knew I could recover and I didn’t want to change constituency,” he added.
Najib said he had to work very hard to reverse his fortunes by winning with a thumping majority of 22,922 votes in the 2004 general election.
In Election 2008, he increased the winning margin to 26,464 votes, the highest obtained by any BN candidate that year.
“If you have the confidence, you should not be deterred by a temporary setback. What is more important is ability to recover. Fortunately I’m still around,” said Najib who was sworn in as prime minister in April last year.
He also stressed the importance of being in the right team to survive in politics.
“In politics your political life can be cut short if you are seen to be in the wrong camp,” said Najib.
“Even if you are competent, even if you have the ability, but if you are in the wrong camp it can be quite tragic,” he added.