Najib nominated by UMNO as possible MP candidate, but can't campaign while serving prison term

Najib has been renominated for his Pekan district, despite speculation he would be replaced by his son Nizar.

Tan Min-Wei | October 13, 2022, 10:48 PM

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Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, now a convicted and incarcerated felon, has been renominated as a candidate for his parliamentary seat for the upcoming general election by his local party branch.

Seating plan

Najib, who is currently serving a 12 year jail sentence for graft-related charges, held until recently the Pahang seat of Pekan for the Dewan Rakyat, or Malaysia's lower house of parliament.

The seat was previously held by his father, and Najib has served there since 1976, save for a brief four year spell from 1982 to 1986, when Najib was chief minister of Pahang.

Despite his conviction and jail sentence, he retained the seat as he applied for a royal pardon within 14 days of his sentence commencing.

He is still on trial for a number of other corruption charges.

Malaysia's parliament was dissolved on Oct. 10 by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and fresh elections will be held within 60 days.

This means that Najib will have to be re-elected or an alternative candidate for the seat found.

The son does not sit in Pekan

Political analysts quoted by Free Malaysia Today suggested that Najib's son Nizar, who is currently the UMNO Youth Chief for the Pekan district, might run for the seat in his stead.

But the Pekan UMNO deputy division head, Zamri Ramly, put this speculation to one side by nominating five possible candidates, one of whom is Najib himself.

As quoted by MalaysiaKini, Zamri said that there were "no plans to field Najib's children in Pekan if he (Najib) loses the ability to contest".

He further added that whoever contested would hand the seat back to Najib should they win and if Najib is pardoned.

It should be noted that MalaysiaKini and Free Malaysia Today both carried this story, and the former quoting Zamri as saying "when Najib is pardoned", and the latter saying "if". The Edge also carried the quote as "if".

Out of the running

Despite the nomination, it appears that Najib will not be able to take it up.

As things stand, as a person serving a jail sentence of more than a year and fined more than RM 2,000 (S$611) is not legally able to run for parliament.

According to The Edge Markets, Malaysia's Prisons Director-General Nordin Muhammad has said that Najib was subject to "the Prisons Act and its regulations, and would receive no favouritism and thus be unable to campaign in the upcoming general election.

Nordin also said that Najib had only submitted one application so far, that he should be allowed to attend Parliament sittings. He has yet to apply to leave prison in order to campaign.

Najib had been appealing to the courts to be allowed to attend parliament sittings, but with its dissolution, there is no longer an impetus to rush the appeal.

However, even while behind bars and deprived of access to a smartphone, Najib's social media influence may yet prove to be decisive in the campaigns.

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