KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has rubbished claims of UMNO members resigning en masse to join the fledgling Parti Warisan Sabah led by former UMNO vice president Dato Seri Haji Shafie Apdal.
The Umno Treasurer said Wednesday that there is no such record of mass resignations from Umno members in Sabah, adding it was unlikely to happen.
But Salleh, who is also the Minister of Communications and Multimedia did not deny that there were members who attended Warisan activities.
“That is normal and that is their right,” he told mainly (Sabah) reporters when met at the sidelines during the Umno General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre here.
“We cannot stop them from joining any political party,” he said when queried about large groups of people reportedly signing up to join Warisan.
Asked about the challenges UMNO faced in Sabah, Salleh said that party members should stand firm behind the leadership under Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman who is also the state Umno liaison chief.
“As the deputy state liaison chief, I myself will render my fullest support to the state leadership,” he said adding that the goal of Umno is to ensure that the people of Sabah will be able to enjoy development.
Salleh said that the party has to be inclusive and practice politics of accommodation to remain relevant, stressing that the leadership must also reach out to the people at large and not only supporters.
He said even party president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has said that Umno has to serve all citizens regardless of race and religion.
Salleh said that UMNO faces the challenges of countering slander, approaching the young generation, unity of members and countering former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“We have to explain to the people is that Tun Mahathir is no longer the same Tun Mahathir (as when he was party president) before.
“Now he is siding with the DAP which is always opposed to Umno,” he added.
He said that UMNO has to counter threats with facts.
“We have to present facts to the people. The time of emotional politics is gone. Now is the time of politics of speeches.
“We need to explain to the youth where do they stand in terms of government administration as well as what they can get from the government.
He also said that party members have to be united under one leader only and that there cannot be sub-leaders.
He said in Sabah, for example especially before the elections, many issues will be raised and many new political parties will shoot up but he said that Sabahans are matured and will not be swayed by political leaders who have their own personal agenda.