KUALA LUMPUR : Umno leaders had over the weekend revved up their effort in persuading disgruntled members to return to the fold for the sake of the party.
Speaking at divisional meetings throughout the country, they pleaded for party members to cease harping on controversies which were harmful to Umno.
The controversies, which have dominated the political scene over the past months were centered on the mismanagement allegation against party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak over his handling of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy.
Grumblings within the party, especially amongst grassroots members had intensified after Najib replaced his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as his Deputy Prime Minister earlier this month.
At the party meetings, Najib and other Umno leaders went on damage control mode as they explained to members the importance of them being united and loyal to the party.
Najib himself on Sunday said that as an Umno president and prime minister, he “needed support of the people” to accomplish the country’s aspirations.
“The prime minister and Umno president can only stand firm if the support of Umno members toward the prime minister and Umno president remained strong,” he said at the Grik Umno division meeting.
Najib also cautioned the Malays that they “will be doomed if Umno is not in power.”
Party vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had on the same day focused his speech at the Parit Umno division meeting at trust-restoration efforts, urging party members at all level to keep their emotion in check.
He reminded members to concentrate their efforts in preparing Umno for the next general election scheduled in 2018 instead of worrying themselves about the 1MDB controversy.
Similar sentiments were also voiced by party’s Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, where she said that “overly aggressive politicking can destroy Umno.”
Shahrizat stressed that it is vital for members of the party wing to be steadfast in accomplishing Umno’s agenda and remain clam amidst any crisis.
“If the backbone which is Wanita is cracked or misaligned, then Umno in general will be shaken,” she said at a delegate meeting in Jasin, also on Sunday.
Stressing on the importance of Umno’s survival, Kedah party chief Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir called for more efforts being focused towards the rejuvenation of the party.
Speaking at the Gopeng Umno division meeting, Mukhriz said Umno need to be made more appealing to the younger generation who now made up the majority of voters in this country.
He added such rejuvenation will ensure Umno’s victory in the next general election and the party’s survival in the changing political landscape.