KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi could not hold back his tears when he spoke about his incarcerated party comrade, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“My heart breaks when I look at the crowd and the person who was always with us is not here today,” said the Umno president, his voice choked with emotion.

At the outset of his briefing, Ahmad Zahid was overcome with emotion and had to stop several times to regain his composure.

There were also times when he could not contain his sadness, covered his face with his hands and sobbed.

“I am personally affected by what has happened to Najib. I am sad and disappointed by the way he is treated, that he was punished before he was found guilty,” he added.

Addressing Najib’s daughter Nooryana Najwa, Ahmad Zahid assured her that her father, his sacrifices and struggles for Umno and the country would not be forgotten.

“Your family is not alone in your fight to ensure justice for the man who has contributed so much to the country and the party.

“As long as there is room for defence, we will fight this together,” he said.

Najib, 69, is currently serving his 12-year jail sentence for misappropriating RM42mil involving SRC International Sdn Bhd funds.

It was an emotional moment for those present at yesterday’s special briefing when video clips of the former party president, prepared by his family as well as Umno, were shown. Some were seen wiping their tears as images of Najib appeared on the big screen.

Family members of the former prime minister, including his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, were present.

At the end of the event, Ahmad Zahid’s wife Datin Seri Hamidah Khamis was seen hugging Rosmah.

In his briefing, Ahmad Zahid said the gathering was aimed at steering the return of Umno and Barisan Nasional at the helm of the country in the name of stability, prosperity and well-being.

“We also aim to put an end to revenge politics and threats by our enemies,” he said.

He maintained that Najib was a victim of political persecution by how his case was handled, even during the early stage of investigation.

“Nonetheless, I bear witness to Najib’s insistence for his case not to be dropped.

“Instead, he wanted his name and that of his family to be cleared in court,” he added.