KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak expects Barisan Nasional (BN) to deliver a "better result” in the 14th general election compared to its performance in the previous national polls.
In an interview with Bloomberg, the BN chairman mentioned several reasons for his optimism.
"We are reasonably confident of a good result. There is no movement for changing the government, I don't see that.
"That's not saying we will win with a huge majority ... no, I am not going to predict that, but I am going to say that we are reasonably sanguine about the result,” he was quoted as saying in the interview, the first with an international media outlet in more than three years.
The GE14, dubbed the “father of all elections”, will be the fiercest contest between the ruling coalition and the opposition parties to date.
Najib said his confidence was underscored by what he called “a motley collection of parties” that make up Pakatan Harapan, which is led by a 92-year-old former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib said that he did not see how the parties could be working together.
In the interview, Najib also predicted that Pakatan Harapan would struggle to win votes after falling out with coalition partner Parti Islam SeMalaysia, which had helped in its performance in 2013.
He added that the urban and Chinese voters who backed the opposition in 2013, in the hope of bringing change, were less motivated this time around.
"Now, today, they know it's not possible. So, I think that euphoria has receded to a great extent,” he said, adding that he had also worked to strengthen UMNO from within after firing his then-deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, and several others over the 1MDB issue.
“I believe in developing personal relationships within the party, so even in difficult times the party stood by me. They couldn't shake me, the support base is strong,” he said.
He said the 1MDB matter was due to a governance issue: “It's been cleared, there's been no wrongdoing - I stand by it.”
On his falling out with Dr Mahathir who had, among other things, accused him of redrawing the electoral boundaries to the ruling party’s advantage, Najib pointed out that the former prime minister had himself presided over several district redraws and the recent changes were to “take into account some demographic changes”.
“I think he’s obsessed about control, about calling the shots, in fact, when we were quite close together, he even suggested establishing a council of elders,” Najib said.
“Of course, you can imagine who’s going to chair the council of elders and a sitting prime minister after every cabinet, I suppose I would have to march to his office to get his consent. He wanted me to do his bidding.”