Hisham: What rift? New portfolio shows BN-Umno solidarity

Hishammuddin-1

KUALA LUMPUR: Hishammuddin Hussein says his new position of minister with special functions is a move towards efficient distribution of responsibility, and shows solidarity within the federal government leadership.

Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, said speculation on his post, made mainly by the opposition, showed that they were not happy about the strong cooperation and understanding among Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders.

“Maybe they were unhappy with the announcement (appointment) because they were worried that the cooperation and understanding among our top leadership shows strong solidarity,” he said during a press conference held at the Parliament lobby, outside the Dewan Negara today.

Hishammuddin, who is Umno vice-president, was asked to comment on allegations that the portfolio would cause friction between himself and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Zahid is also Umno vice-president and has assumed the duties of deputy president.

As announced yesterday, he said, among the special duties under the portfolio was to help Prime Minister Najib Razak monitor the safety of Sabah and the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (EssZone).

This was a crucial task which required special attention, he said, citing the threat posed by terrorists, particularly the Abu Sayyaf group, in the southern Philippines.

He said Zahid himself, who is also home minister, was aware of the special tasks involved, and had personally asked him to get closer to the people in Sabah, especially the fishermen there who were more vulnerable to terrorist threats.

“The distribution of tasks among us is important, because we can’t possibly do everything. But teaming up, thinking and strategising, I believe that’s quite important.

“For example, in the southern Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf group already supports Daesh. Our relationship with Indonesia in the Sulu Sea, the approach made by the MMEA (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency) and the approach of the police, led by Chief Minister (Musa Aman) – only with this synergy, I believe we can take proactive measures to deal with threats that arise,” he said.

He again rejected speculation that his appointment would result in a rift with Zahid, insisting that all parties had their own responsibilities in helping the prime minister.