Former Malaysian Prime Minister Leads Party to Landslide Victory in State Elections

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
November 23, 2021 Updated: November 23, 2021

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has led his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), and its allies to a landslide victory in the Malacca state elections, with the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition winning 21 of the 28 state seats on Nov. 20.

UMNO won 18 of the 28 seats, while its allies in the BN coalition won three. Rival coalitions Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional (PN) won five seats and two seats, respectively.

Malacca state was initially governed by a PN–BN coalition government, but the coalition toppled after four assemblymen declared no confidence in the state’s former chief minister, Sulaiman Ali, prompting a state election. Gov. Ali Rustam consented to dissolve the state assembly on Oct. 5, after which an election was required to be held within 60 days of the dissolution under Malaysian law.

The state election saw the lowest voter turnout, with an overall turnout of 65.85 percent, or 328,068 total voters, well below the Election Commission’s target of 70 percent.

Najib, who’s facing a string of corruption charges, has been actively leading UMNO’s election campaign, despite not contesting any seats.

“I slept very well last night after news of the victory broke,” Najib said in a Facebook video, expressing gratitude to Malacca voters for their support of him and his party following UMNO’s victory in the Malacca election.

In 2020, the former president was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $50 million after he was found guilty of all seven charges related to the misappropriation of $10 million of SRC International funds, a former unit of now-defunct 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Najib faced three charges of criminal breach of trust, one charge of abuse of power, and three charges of money laundering. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and denied any wrongdoing.

The scandal contributed to the ousting of the UMNO party that had led Malaysia since its independence in 1957. The party was ousted in the 2018 elections by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s reformist alliance.

Ibrahim’s alliance crumbled in 2020 after Muhyiddin Yassin withdrew his Bersatu Party and formed a new government with UMNO, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, and several others.

Muhyiddin was forced to resign in August due to infighting, and Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who was Muhyiddin’s deputy, took office, bringing back UMNO’s rule.

UMNO and Bersatu, the two largest parties in the ruling alliance, are at loggerheads, but both sides have agreed to share power until the next general election.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.