KOTA KINABALU: Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today admitted that the party’s alliance with PAS at the national level will have some bearing on its support in Sabah.
This was one reason why the party wanted to grant Sabah Umno its autonomy to gain more support from the people in the state.
“We will work on increasing support for Umno in the state.
“In essence, the Umno national leaders believe only Sabahans, particularly those in Sabah Umno, will know what is needed to adapt the Piagam Penyatuan Ummah (Umno-PAS national unity charter) to Sabah’s political landscape.
“Sabah Umno leaders will know what Sabahans want and need. We will respect the decision of the state leaders,” Zahid told reporters here today.
The national unity charter – Piagam Muafakat Nasional – signed by the PAS and Umno presidents a week ago, seeks to uphold the interests of the Malays, Islam as the official religion, and Malay as the national language.
It vows to restore the confidence of the people in the “leadership of Islam, the Malays and the Bumiputeras”.
Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin had said the Muafakat Nasional is not exclusive to Umno and PAS, and urged Sabah and Sarawak parties, as well as civil society groups, to join the charter.
Asked on the absence of former chief minister Musa Aman, who is also the former Sabah Umno chief, Zahid said Musa is seeking medical treatment, adding they appreciated the Sungai Sibuga representative’s commitment towards the party.
To a question whether Umno and PAS will be contesting the Tanjung Piai seat with the death of its incumbent, the former deputy prime minister said they will need to discuss this with the component parties in Barisan Nasional first.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Md Farid Md Rafik died this morning from a heart attack.
Farid was vice-chief of the Tanjung Piai PPBM division. He won the Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat in the general election last year.
Meanwhile, Zahid was also coy on the possibility of a Umno-PAS unity government before the next general election. “We will announce it when we cross that bridge,” he said.
He also dismissed claims that there were no new talents following the mass exodus of senior Sabah Umno leaders last year, saying the party is actually banking on new blood to strengthen its support in the state.
“New talent is now seen as the main catalyst for new growth to strengthen Sabah Umno,” he said, adding they have a vital role to play.