KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Umno has not taken kindly to remarks from a PPBM federal minister who apparently said during a live social media session that Umno was no more relevant in the state.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad had made the remarks while speaking about defections during a live Facebook session organised by Mara yesterday.
Latiff, who had crossed over from Umno to PPBM in 2019, had said people in Sabah considered defections as hijrah (migrating), saying it was the norm there and that Umno was not relevant any more in the state as proven by the mass exodus of former Umno senior leaders to PPBM previously.
In response to this, Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin hit back at Latiff, saying Umno fell in the last election due to its former leaders who chose to abandon the party’s struggles for the sake of power and position.
“There is no term like ‘hijrah’ but the culture of ‘buying’ MPs to strengthen power that is practised by PPBM,” he said.
“This is the same for the Mersing MP (Latiff) who won on a Barisan Nasional ticket but crossed over to support the government (previously Pakatan Harapan) for his political survival.
“Those who are qualified to evaluate Sabah Umno are Sabahans — not an MP who jumped and left the party when it was down.”
Earlier, Barisan Nasional adviser and former prime minister Najib Razak had also criticised Latiff for playing down the party’s popularity in Sabah, saying there was no need for such remarks.
“Even though you jumped, there is no need to say this, YB minister. We will take Mersing back,” he said in a Facebook post.
It is understood that Latiff had issued an apology over his remarks, saying he was negligent when making the statement and that it was his personal view whch had been misinterpreted.
But Bung was unapologetic in his response, questioning Latiff whether he thought crossing over from PH and now working with Umno, through Perikatan Nasional, was not wrong.
“He is now the rural and regional development minister — is that hijrah? He is back together with Umno to have political power and become a minister,” said the Kinabatangan MP.
Bung said Sabah Umno had not died and remained relevant to the people, adding it had become stronger by learning from its past mistakes.
“The BN victory in the Kimanis by-election is a signal that Sabah Umno has been accepted again by the people. We managed to defeat the Warisan-led government while we were still in the opposition.”
He said the party’s journey in Sabah was long, adding it was in the midst of strengthening its grassroots.
“A strong party is a party that holds on to its fight, not one that prioritises power,” he said.
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