KOTA KINABALU: Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob will leave it to Sabah Umno to decide whether to work with PPBM in the state after its minister’s remarks over Umno not being popular in the state.
Ismail, who is senior minister for security, said he considered the remarks by Rural Development Minister Abd Latiff Ahmad as the latter’s own personal views and therefore do not represent his party’s stand.
“The statement didn’t even come from PPBM itself and we don’t hear any Sabah PPBM leaders condemning us or supporting what he said,” he said at the Sabah Umno building here tonight.
“He (Latiff) is said to have made an open apology, although I have not read it.
“But Sabah Umno has the autonomy and freedom to decide whatever it wants to do. It is up to its chief, Bung Moktar Radin, and others in the state.”
Ismail was responding to a threat made by Sabah Umno communications director Ghazalie Ansing that the party would cease all talks with Sabah PPBM if Latiff did not issue a special open apology.
During a recent live Facebook session, Latiff was reported as saying: “People in Sabah don’t call it jumping, they call it migrating. From Berjaya to PBS, PBS to Umno. Now, Umno is not popular. Umno I mean is Umno in Sabah.
“That is the reality because people are not confident. All those who have jumped have migrated to PPBM.”
According to PNBBC, a portal linked to Perikatan Nasional, Latiff has since apologised for his remarks.
Ismail said the angry reaction from Sabah Umno is perfectly expected and justified.
“Should they just be silent? Of course, the chief and others will speak up. If the same thing is said about Umno in the peninsula, I think the leaders will have the same reaction; so it’s normal.
“But, probably after this, I think we should move forward and focus on other important work like the next general election. But we are not sure when the polls will be held.
“What is past is past,” he said.
At the same time, Ismail called on Sabah Umno to treat Latiff’s remarks as a challenge and subsequently prove the latter was wrong to say such a thing.
“I hope Sabah Umno will take his words as the impetus to work even harder. The party in Sabah has proven that, despite many leaving before, it remains strong, even stronger than before.
“We must prove in the next general election that we can win all our seats. That is my answer to Latiff for saying Umno is not popular in Sabah,” Ismail said.
Bung said such remarks should not have been made if Latiff respected its fellow members in PN.
“It’s disappointing that a PPBM leader, who is also a minister, said this but for us our stand is clear — we will discuss our direction with partners who we trust.
“We have to move forward, that’s all,” he said.
As such, Ismail said the relationship between Umno and PPBM remains intact, particularly in Parliament.
He said the Dewan Rakyat session on Monday will be an important one, adding there will be motions tabled to replace the speaker and deputy speaker.
“(Besides the speaker) Umno Supreme Council member Azalina Othman Said has been nominated as the deputy speaker to replace Nga Kor Ming … I believe we will support both motions.”
On talk that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is returning to Umno’s fold, Ismail said the party is open to any Malay or Bumiputera being members. He said Muhyiddin will have to apply first.
“We have procedures and the final decision will be made by the party’s Supreme Council,” he said.
Padang Rengas MP Mohamed Nazri Aziz had previously said Muhyiddin should return to Umno and take charge as its president, adding this was possible as the latter had not betrayed the party but was sacked.
On former federal minister Salleh Said Keruak’s application to rejoin Umno, Ismail said the party’s Supreme Council had yet to decide on it.
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