Defending Barisan Nasional's decision to field Tan Sri Isa Samad for the Bagan Pinang state by-election, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the former has already paid his dues.
Tan Sri Isa, a former menteri besar of Negeri Sembilan, was suspended from Umno in 2004 after being found guilty of practicing money politics.
Speaking to students in Paris, Datuk Seri Najib said: "The question here is whether he deserved a second chance or not."
And to the Prime Minister and the Umno leadership Tan Sri Isa does (deserve a second chance) because he is a loyal party member and has been working hard for the party.
The NST has the report:
Bagan Pinang by-election: Isa paid dues, deserves second chance, says PM Najib
Nuraina A Samad reporting from Paris
PARIS: Tan Sri Isa Samad has paid his dues and deserves a second chance as the Barisan Nasional candidate in the Bagan Pinang state by-election, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said here.
"Action has already been taken against him for his offences, and he lost his party posts. The punishment he got was severe. The question is whether he deserves a second chance.
"In our system, criminals can be given a second chance. People who have been sentenced by the courts are given a second chance," he said in response to a question by a Malaysian student during a gathering at Pavillon Davphine at Place du Marechal de Lattre Tassigny, here Sunday.
Engineering student Ahmed Syukri Amin Ahmed Ismail wanted the Prime Minister to explain why BN picked the former Menteri Besar whom Umno had found guilty of money politics, as Bagan Pinang candidate in the forthcoming state by-election.
Najib who is in France for a four-day official visit said Isa did not break the country's laws, but the party's ethics. Besides, he is not being picked for a Cabinet position but as a candidate for the state assembly.
He said the Opposition could raise all sorts of allegations but the fact is that they are faced with more serious ones.
"Isa has paid his dues, is loyal to the party and has, in fact, been working hard for the party.
"The party's primary consideration is (to choose) someone who can effectively serve the constituency, someone popular and someone whose leadership people can accept.
"Our reading is that Tan Sri Isa is the most popular candidate and the right choice for Bagan Pinang."
Najib who is accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, later hosted a 1Malaysia open house.