KOTA KINABALU, March 9 — Urging members to remain loyal to the party, Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Moktar Radin said today that the party has always had its own advantage and will always find a way to rise to the top.
He said that many members could not handle it when the party was not in power and left for greener pastures, but he said that the party would always weather any political turmoil and come back to power in time.
“Those that leave have no strength or integrity. They do not see the party’s gains because they are too busy looking after their own on the pretence of ‘political stability’ but it’s just an excuse.
“I am very confident that although Sabah Umno is facing some political turmoil now, I am sure Umno will again lead Sabah in the next general election,” he said, pointing out that there was now a unique situation where Barisan Nasional is officially supporting the state “unity” government.
Bung Moktar said it has happened before when many Umno members had quit the party en masse after it lost in the 14th general election, but yet the party had still managed to rise and come to power again after that.
“We have always been different from other political parties,” he said.
He reminded members not to leave the party during this time, reminding them that Umno has a robust structure and strong grassroots.
“Analysts had said that before that Umno’s influence was dwindling but the grassroots response showed that Umno was still firm. We were born from a struggle to gain independence from colonisation while other parties were built on roads, power, political hopping and others.
“Don’t leave Umno because Umno is a party with a difference,” he said.
Despite a number of Umno leaders leaving recently to join the nearly formed Parti Gagasan Rakyat Sabah, Bung Moktar said he was unfazed and would continue to work on the party’s strength.
“I am sure that after this election, Umno will be led by those with integrity and will be responsible. I will arrange the party’s strategy to ensure Sabah will rise again and make sure we are pulled out of the poverty line,” he said.
He said he will work on three main pillars: lack of water, electricity and roads which are all putting Sabah’s economy on hold.
Bung Moktar, who is Kinabatangan MP, will be holding on to the Kinabatangan division chief position uncontested. He is also contesting to be a member of the Umno Supreme Council.
His leadership has been called into question after a failed power takeover of former ally Datuk Hajiji Noor, who is Sabah’s chief minister. Hajiji had retained power with the help of five former Umno members.
Since then, four of the five Umno state representatives have announced they are leaving the party and joining Sabah Gagasan Rakyat Party.
They are Sindumin assemblyman Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, Datuk James Ratib (Sugut), Datuk Jasni Daya (Pantai Dalit), Datuk Arshad Bistari (Tampasuk) and Datuk Hamild @ Hamid Awang (Balung).
Tanjung Keramat’s Datuk Shahelmy Yahya, who was one of the five who went against the party’s stand and pledged his support for Hajiji, is still in Umno.