Friday, December 3

Political landscape will change again

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Najib (centre) with the Umno leaders and delegates.

KINARUT: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak believes that the political landscape in the country will change again in favour of Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN).

He said there was a growing realization that the BN era was far better with policies that benefitted the people of the State.

Najib, who is also the chairman of BN advisory board, is confident that Umno and BN were still relevant in Sabah.

“We need to convince the people that Umno and BN are the best options.

“Although certain quarters are playing up issues to gain support for Sabah-based parties, I am more focused on the parties that could contribute or deliver the best for Sabah.”

He said the people should not believe that only Sabah-based parties could serve Sabahans well.

“We need a strong party that understands the hearts of Sabahans, and that is Umno,” Najib said when officiating at the 28th Delegates Conference of Umno Papar Division here yesterday.

Even though Umno has an understanding with PAS in West Malaysia, Najib said he did not wish to overplay PAS in Sabah.

“We will look into how we can strengthen Umno. It is possible that we may need to have some alliances in Sabah.

“But we keep our options open for the time being.”

Asked if he sees Sabah BN making a comeback or formation of a new alliance here, Najib replied that politics was very dynamic and fluid.

“There are various scenarios that will play out.

“It is a bit too early to say but Umno and BN are open to working with parties that believe in our policies.”

Najib, who is the former Umno president, said the party would continue to build its strength and rise from defeat.

“We will continue to strengthen Umno even though we have received a huge blow.

“But a year has passed (since the 13th General Election) and there is a growing realization that Umno still has a future.”

Najib, who is the chairman of Barisan Nasional (BN) advisory board, stressed that Umno would not ‘close shop’.

“Umno will rise from our defeat,” he said.

He said there was a need to mature the current Umno leaders, whom were inexperienced though high-spirited, for them to be viable alternatives in politics.

Najib added that the grassroot spirit in Sabah was still very strong.

“What we need to do is to strengthen the leadership because we have lost quite a number of people who jumped ship.”

He also criticized the 21 Umno leaders who quit the party.

“These leaders have contested and won under the BN ticket, as well as received rewards from BN.”

Nevertheless, Najib thanked former Pantai Manis assemblyman Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Ismail for returning to Umno after quitting the party to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PBBM).

“I hope he will help Umno in its struggles.”

He pointed out that it was easy to have friends during good times and when the party had power but true friends would stay during the hard times.

Earlier, Najib also criticized the new government for backtracking on its promises and election manifesto, including on its stand on Lynas, failure to abolish the National Higher Education Corporation Fund (PTPTN) loans and toll charges for the North-South Expressway.

When he was the prime minister, Najib said he had given more allocation to Sabah than the Pakatan Harapan government as the State was lagging behind in terms of development, RM1 billion of funding each for dilapidated schools in rural Sabah and Sarawak and implemented the devolution of power in stages.

He pointed out that phase one of the Sabah Pan Borneo Highway project would have been completed in 2021 if BN stayed in power.

“Now the contract of the project delivery partner (PDP) company has been terminated and 200 Sabahans, including engineers, have lost their jobs because of this.”

He said every project in the Pan Borneo Highway was opened for tender and not awarded to cronies.

Najib pointed out that the voters would not forget the promises made by the present government that were not honored.

“Believe me, the political landscape could change again.”

On his ‘Bossku’ tagline, Najib admitted that he did not know how the catchword came about but emphasized that the people, not him, were the boss.

Also present were Umno Sabah liaison committee deputy chairman Datuk Hj Yakub Khan and Papar Umno division chief Jamal Nerubi.