Sabah Umno Stronger Than Before, Says Ismail Sabri

ISMAIL SABRI

KOTA KINABALU: Umno Vice President Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob is happy with the way Sabah Umno has risen after the last general election, saying the party is stronger than before.

Responding to remarks from a Bersatu federal minister who had described Umno as having become unpopular in the state, Ismail pointed out that could not be further than the truth.

“Although many have left the party, Sabah Umno has proven to remain strong and has managed to rise and become stronger than before,” he said tonight.

“When many people left Sabah Umno, I was the first to come here to revive the party and from then on it started to grow.

“And the proof is when we won handsomely in Kimanis. So to say Sabah Umno is not laku, the party has proven the people still accept Umno and it has become even stronger than previously.”

The Senior Minister for Security was speaking to reporters at the Sabah Umno building during his working visit to the state during which he is scheduled to visit the naval base in Sepanggar near here tomorrow.

Federal Rural Development Minister Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad had previously said during a live online forum that Sabah Umno was no more popular in the state and that this was evidenced by the mass exodus of its leaders to Bersatu.

Towards this end, Ismail urged Sabah Umno members to consider Abd Latiff’’s remarks as a challenge for them to win all the seats they will be contesting in the next general polls.

“We must prove in the coming election that we can win all our seats,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ismail said Sabah Umno is free to decide if they wanted to work with the state Bersatu after the remarks by Abd Latiff.

“Bersatu did not issue the statement and we have not heard any state Bersatu leader condemning us or supporting his remarks so it’s not the party’s stand.

“(But) Sabah Umno has the autonomy to implement whatever they want from their own discussions in Sabah. They are free to decide what to do,” he said.

He said this in response to a question on Sabah Umno communications director Ghazalie Ansing warning previously that the party will cease all its relations with Sabah Bersatu if Abd Latiff did not issue an open apology for what he had said.