In a report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), an analyst said Prime Minister Najib Razak will be ousted if the party does fails to perform in the upcoming general elections in 2018, or the GE14.
Barisan Nasional retained federal power because the first-past-the-post system saw it win 133 of 222 parliament seats.
Najib barely remained in power as the party allowed him to continue since it was his first electoral test that helped the party regained power and earn a few seats in the opposition heartlands in urban areas.
“If UMNO’s share of seats in parliament decreases in the next election, UMNO will push Najib to step down just like Abdullah Badawi,” Awang Azman said to the SCMP
Awang Azman Awang Pawi, a politics professor at the University of Malaya, said rank-and-file UMNO members are also likely to raise concerns about rising food and fuel costs. A total of 826 resolutions have been tabled for discussion at the assembly.
None will question Najib’s leadership however.
The SCMP said Malaysian PM Najib Razak will not have to dig too deep to rally rank-and-file members of his ruling party when they convene next week for a final annual conference before the watershed general election expected early next year.
It also said the performing economy will be on Najib’s side as he rally the troops at the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), with a roaring economy that has upended expectations.
A Bloomberg News survey last week showed the Malaysian economy is likely to grow 5.7 per cent this year and 5.2 per cent next year, in contrast to sub-five per cent growth in 2016.
The changing fortunes of the economy mirrors the about-turn in sentiment about UMNO, which just two general assemblies ago was staring down the prospect of being ousted from power over the multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at state fund 1MDB.
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It said Najib appears to have fully weathered that storm, while observers and UMNO insiders say the 64-year-old leader will use the five-day event starting Tuesday to fire the starting gun to the election season, after hemming and hawing about it the whole of this year.
There is a growing consensus that he will call it in March or April – after Lunar New Year and before the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in mid-May. The vote is due by August.
It will pit Najib’s ruling Barisan Nasional coalition against an opposition helmed by his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad, the ex-prime minister who crossed aisles last year in a bid to oust the current premier over his handling of the graft scandal. Najib and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing in the case, which remains subject to criminal money-laundering investigations in the US, Singapore and Switzerland.
“We are all raring to go for the general election … this is the right opportunity to tell delegates and the electorate to believe in us and return us to power,” said Rahman Hussin, an executive council member of UMNO’s influential youth wing.