KUALA LUMPUR – August 10, 2015: Johor Umno grassroots leaders are concerned that some party members in the state are now sceptical of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s leadership.
They are however hopeful that these members will consider the bigger picture and give Najib the chance to address issues which lead to their scepticism of the prime minister
Their scepticism follows the allegation of impropriety by the party president in how he is handling current issues and the recent Cabinet reshuffle which led to the removal of Johorean Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as deputy prime minister and education minister.
Segamat divison chief Zahari Sarip said party members need to be mindful in their response to current issues which include Muhyiddin’s removal from the Cabinet.
He cautioned that Johor Umno and its Barisan Nasional partners in the state could not afford a split in preparing for the next general election.
“In the last general election, we won a lot of parliamentary seats by a slim majority. We maintained our hold in Johor by the skin of our teeth.
“If we do not handle these delicate issues wisely, I worry that BN voters would sway to the other side and at this point, if we lose only five to 10 per cent more of our voters, we would lose many more seats,” he said.
Zahari further urged Johor Umno members to be forward-thinking and not jeorpadise BN’s chances in the next general election.
Yesterday, it was reported that members of Pasir Gudang Umno had forwarded a memorandum to Najib himself, demanding him to take a leave and revoke the 18-month postponement of the party election.
The support for Umno and BN in Johor has been on the slide over the past three general elections.
In 2004, BN saw a landslide, by winning all eats except the Senggarang state seat on technical ground to Pas while four years later BN lost the Bakri parliamentary seat to the DAP and another six state seats.
It lost four parliamentary seats other than Bakri in 2013 — Kluang, Gelang Patah and Kulai to the DAP and Batu Pahat to PKR. In addition the coalition lost 18 state seats.
Realising the facts and figures, Zahari said he wants the Umno central leadership to make sure the government will solve every national issue that is currently weighing down the party.
He also told The Mole that his division has been taking it upon itself to engage members and explain to them about those issues.
“We explain to them the things that have been stressed by the Johor Umno leadership, especially on Najib’s prerogative in appointing and dismissing ministers.
While agreeing that there are party members in Johor who are critical of Najib’s leadership, Parit Sulong division chief Datuk Zulkarnain Kamisan did not think it is as serious as perceived.
“I do not deny that there are some who are cynical of the way Najib is leading the country right now but the number is small.
Zulkarnain maintains that Johor Umno as a whole has no problem with Najib’s leadership.
On a recent remark by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled on his Facebook page which some interpreted as questioning Najib’s leadership, Zulkarnain said Khaled was merely expressing his thoughts.
“He (Khaled) is just an Umno member who expressed his thoughts for the betterment of the party, but people misunderstood his statement.