Jamilah Anu, widow of Adenan Satem, was selected as the Barisan Nasional candidate for the Tanjong Datu by-election based on merit and not to start a family dynasty, said Najib Abdul Razak.
The prime minister said that being the wife of the late chief minister was one of the factors.
"But when we did a survey, we actually found out that her name remains very close to the hearts of the voters. She is very popular and enjoys a very high rating, which reflects the people's confidence in her leadership," he said.
The prime minister was speaking at the opening of the RM4.2-million Medan Selera Lundu in Lundu today as part of his itinerary during a three-day visit to Sarawak ending today.
Najib said it was also discovered that she was very approachable and cheerful and had on many occasions represented her late husband at functions in Lundu.
Najib said he was confident Jamilah would be able to continue with many of Adenan's uncompleted missions and agendas.
"We are here to give her our full support and endorsement as the BN candidate. I hope Tanjong Datu voters will turn out in full support on polling day to give her their fullest support. Give her the biggest of majorities so that she can win in great style," he said.
Polling for the Tanjong Datu state by-election is on Feb 18. The by-election is a three-cornered contest among Jamilah, Rapelson Richard Hamit of the New Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS Baru) and Johnny Aput of the State Reform Party (Star).
Najib said to the people that the opposition candidates were irrelevant to their future.
"They can only exploit irrelevant issues to stir up emotions. They do not deserve your support because when we vote in a election we vote in the hope of changing our life for the better," he said.
On a personal note, Najib said, he was touched on seeing a picture of him with Adenan at the government resthouse on arrival there for a short rest.
"I was holding up his hand at a function to indicate my fullest support for him as the BN candidate in the last state election (in May 2016).
"I have lost a great personal friend with his demise. I have requested for that picture to be taken back to Sri Perdana to be hung there to remind me of my friendship with him and of his great victory in the election then and of his great leadership in Sarawak," he said.
Najib also said that Adenan had great plans for Tanjong Datu, Lundu and Sematan as a whole.
He said he had wanted to fully exploit its many natural attractions to make it a leading tourism destination in Sarawak.
At the function, Najib announced a federal government allocation of RM129 million to upgrade the water supply system in the Lundu district.