By Zurairi AR
PUTRAJAYA, May 7 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that Umno would have to decide if Datuk Seri Najib Razak should step down as party leader after Barisan Nasional’s (BN) worse ever electoral performance.
He also questioned Najib’s strategists, and pointed out that their ideas may have contributed to BN’s poor performance.
The former prime minister (picture) said that Najib was expected to face tough questions from critics who will question his capabilities and strategies.
“I had hoped that this time BN would get more seats than in 2008 ... I’m quite disappointed and shocked to find out that in the end BN got less than in 2008,” Dr Mahathir told reporters at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here.
According Dr Mahathir, he did not expect that even after changing leaders from Tun Abdullah Ahmad to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, BN would still fare worse.
“We see his performance was worse than Abdullah. This is something I myself did not expect.”
Sources from the ruling party said today that Najib could step down by the end of the year, after BN extended its 56-year rule but haemorrhaged Chinese and Malay voters in its worst-ever general election performance.
Najib was already under pressure from conservatives in his ruling party for not delivering a stronger majority in yesterday’s election despite a robust economy and a RM7.8 billion deluge of social handouts to poor families.
In January, Dr Mahathir suggested the same fate for Najib, despite admitting that Najib was unfortunately faced with the disadvantage of inheriting a weak government headed by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Dr Mahathir also had said it was his personal opinion that Najib should give way to Deputy Umno president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin if BN only scores a slim majority in the elections.
BN won 133 seats in the 222-member Parliament, well short of the two-thirds majority it lost in 2008. Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won 89 seats, up seven from the 2008 election but still well short of unseating one of the world’s longest-serving governments.
It also lost the popular votes to PR parties, and was bested on the popularity front for the first time since 1969, when it had contested as the Alliance Party.