SANDAKAN, Sabah: Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was greeted warmly by around 300 supporters as he campaigned on behalf of Parti Bersatu Sabah candidate Linda Tsen for the Sandakan by-election.
Najib arrived in Sandakan on Friday afternoon (May 10), a day before polling day, and he wasted no time walking the ground urging voters to pledge support for Ms Tsen.
Ms Tsen is facing Democratic Action Party candidate Ms Vivian Wong for the seat, along with three independent candidates - former Sabah Parti Amanah Negara chairman Hamzah Abdullah, 65, businessman Chia Siew Yung, 45, and former political worker Sulaiman Abdul Samat, 36.
Ms Wong is favourite to win and take over the seat that was vacated by her father Stephen, who died suddenly from a heart attack in March.
"BOSSKU HAS ARRIVED"
When Najib arrived outside Giant hypermart in Sandakan on Friday evening, he led the crowd in a sing-a-long as supporters mobbed the 65-year-old for selfies.
Many of them wore T-shirts with the phrase "Malu apa bossku" or “What’s there to be ashamed of, my boss”, a tagline which has been at the forefront of Mr Najib's social media campaign in defiance of the Pakatan Harapan government.
The campaign has become popular with youths, with many creating their own videos, memes and stickers of it.
Addressing supporters while standing from a truck outside the hypermarket, Mr Najib said: "How are you people of Sandakan? Bossku has arrived."
"The people of Sandakan have been eagerly anticipating my arrival. I have come to do some shopping, but some people are scared that I'm here to shop," joked the member of parliament for the Pekan federal seat.
The former prime minister has been making his presence felt in by-elections campaigns.
Observers attributed his strong efforts during three of the recent by-elections - Rantau, Cameron Highlands and Semenyih – as one of the reasons for PH’s defeat.
In Sandakan, Najib called on voters to choose the fifth candidate on the voting slip, in reference to Ms Tsen.
"It has been a year (under the Pakatan government) but what have they achieved?" he bellowed, to loud cheers.
Najib is currently facing trial over the high-profile corruption scandal involving Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
He is accused of plundering large sums of money from a unit of 1MDB during his time in office.
On Tuesday, Malaysia's Attorney-General’s Chambers filed a notice of forfeiture against Najib, his wife, their three children and several others to seize millions of dollars worth of items which were allegedly bought using 1MDB funds. The items included branded handbags and 27 vehicles.