Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak described Mahathir Mohamad's call to defeat Barisan Nasional in the upcoming by-elections as "unreasonable but expected".
Najib said Mahathir has received so much from both Barisan and Umno, but now he is asking people to reject Barisan. The prime minister said this does not make sense.
"He has received so much through Barisan and Umno. Without the BN and the party, he would not have been a minister or the prime minister for 22 years. He and his family have benefited from his position as prime minister, and this is due to the strength of Barisan and Umno. He is now asking people to reject the party that has been good to him," Najib said:
"Does it make sense for us to stab the party that has done so much for us in the back?" Najib asked at a press conference.
Mahathir had called for a combined effort to defeat Barisan in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections on June 15. He had also warned the opposition parties against splitting the anti-Barisan vote by citing the recent Sarawak elections where DAP, PKR, PAS and Amanah were engaged in multi-cornered contests against the ruling coalition.
Coming to the question of the candidates for the by-elections, Najib remarked that the selection procedure was still on-going and the selection should be done carefully in order to ensure their success. "They must not only be acceptable to the party but also to the constituents," he said.
The prime minister also responded to questions regarding the possible candidates for the by-elections especially after the deaths of Sungai Besar MP and Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Noriah Kasnon, and Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad in the helicopter crash on May 5 in Sarawak.