Former premier Najib Abdul Razak has responded to his critics over his participation in the Sungai Kandis by-election campaign, saying he had gone upon the invitation of the BN candidate there and not because he wanted to be the Umno president again.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, he also said that there was no need for Umno to "defend" him as he was confident he could defend himself through his current predicament.
"I just helped Lokman (Noor) Adam to fulfil his wish of having me help in campaigning for the by-election. It was an uphill task as PKR was the incumbent and had won with a big majority just months earlier.
"I do not have any intention to be Umno president again. The new Umno leadership should be given the confidence and room to prove their leadership, to regain the people's trust," said the former Umno president.
Najib then lamented that during his stint as the prime minister and BN chairperson, he was the target of slanderous attacks from his opponents.
"Umno does not need to defend me from the slander lobbed against me. Through a fair trial, I'm confident of defending myself. I am also confident that I'm not guilty of all charges.
"My only mistake was doing the best for the rakyat, the country and my party," he said.
Thus, it was unfair for Umno too to be subjected to the allegations and slander thrown towards him, he added.
'Will continue to voice out'
Najib said he will remain a loyal Umno member who is ever willing to help when needed.
"Whatever the case, I'm still an Umno division chief and an MP. I have the experience and knowledge from running the previous government.
"Therefore, I will continue to voice out on issues concerning the rakyat, and the country. I have the right to use my freedom of speech and to defend myself should there be allegations against me or the previous BN government," he said.
Najib's defensive posturing comes amid several senior Umno leaders seeking to distance the party from him.
Yesterday, former second finance minister Johari Abdul Ghani said it was a mistake to have Najib campaign in Sungai Kandis as the corruption cases hanging over his head had created a negative perception towards Umno.
Today, Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa was reported as saying that Najib was "baggage" that Umno can ill-afford to have at this point of time, while the party's vice-president Khaled Nordin said that Umno should move on and realise that it was Najib who is on trial and not the party itself.