KUALA LUMPUR: Umno is one happy septuagenarian. Its recent 71st birthday bash was a showcase of unity, even if it was all for a show.
“I feel more confident tonight. Because I am not alone,” said party president Najib Razak to a sea of red at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Thursday.
He was surrounded by Umno leaders. They were all smiles, even as the 1MDB scandal threatened to come out of media hibernation in the wake of the Bandar Malaysia deal’s collapse.
The 80,000 present were a sight Najib said was testament to Umno members’ loyalty to the party’s leaders.
“This is what makes us strong,” said Najib.
It was the kind of confidence that is absent in the opposition camp, fresh from yet another fallout in the form of PAS formally severing ties with PKR.
As Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders continue with their debate over their elusive prime minister-designate, Barisan Nasional (BN) stood solidly behind their prime minister incumbent.
As PH aired their dirty laundry in public, BN parties were busy solidifying their strengths to face the next general election.
The disarray in the PH camp is hard to ignore. Najib took full advantage of this, even praising his newfound friends in PAS in the presence of Umno’s other allies who have been ruffled by the closer PAS-Umno ties.
He even cited excerpts of a speech he said was made by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, to show how the two have and will unite on issues concerning public interests.
“We feel no fear even with whatever obstacles the opposition tries to throw our way. We will face them with strength,” said Najib.
“We are not like the fractured opposition who are not in tune with one another. BN is a family, we carry the same vision and the same policies.”
It was the kind of moment that every BN leader had been waiting for in order to declare snap polls.
Najib’s posturing is not mere political bravado. With three-cornered fights now almost confirmed, BN may well be on to its best performance yet in a while at the next general election.
It’s a reality feared most by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has repeatedly warned that anything other than a straight fight would only benefit BN. -FMT