He entered the ring as a swashbuckling captain would, but left with some in the audience thinking that the writing was on the wall.
Those who have been following the man said the speech he gave when officiating at the Invest Malaysia yesterday was the clearest sign of PM Najib having lost the plot.
Najib had a lot of 'other' things he could have said. The published economic numbers, the successful commissioning of the first MRT line, and perhaps his TN50 long range plan. But no, the audience instead found it strange that they had to listen to his quarrels with former PM, Dr Mahathir.
His speech was at best incoherent as he attempted to paint a pretty picture of the Malaysian economy while at the same time spook the audience, including foreign investors, with a gloomy picture of the country not under BN.
But Najib was probably ill-advised that most of the foreign investors in the audience were seasoned players, especially in the relatively still unsettled emerging economies.
At coffee later last evening, a long time friend amongst them remarked to this writer, "We have been in and out of Thailand, The Philippines and Indonesia. We are used to changes in governments. Whichever party is in power, if we don't like their policies we simply cash out. PM Najib does not have to remind us," the asset manager said.
Najib's 'strange' speech also came on the back of a more important news for the participating investors. Global firm PWC had just released its world report which among others named Indonesia as possibly the fourth largest world economy by 2050.
So why did Najib choose to rope in what was supposed to be an international investment promotion seminar into his political fight?
It is baffling, the participant said. On the one hand it seems Najib was mounting a counter-offensive against his political enemies, in recent days firing salvos after salvos towards their positions.
But on the other, it also looked like it was as act of desperation by a man already staring at the writing on the wall.
By Mustafa Kamal, ex NST