KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Umno delegates declared unswerving support for their president Datuk Seri Najib Razak today, leaving little doubt as to where their loyalties lie for the electoral battle ahead.
As the main assembly kicked into gear, long-time members trained their vitriol on former president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has since quit the Malay nationalist party to found Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
Anti-Dr Mahathir sentiment dominated most of the points raised by the seven delegates that took the main stage today.
As Najib had indicated that he may call for the 14th general election soon, the key focus would be on purging the party from “the enemies within”, in an apparent reference to Dr Mahathir’s new outfit.
“We defended him just as president, why can we not show the same loyalty to our current president. He is a traitor.
“And we must beware of the enemies within… we must identify them,” said Mustafa Musa, a delegate from Malacca.
Dr Mahathir’s new party could pose a serious threat to Umno’s dominance, analysts have said.
By virtue of being Umno’s longest-serving president and prime minister means party grassroots could be sympathetic to Dr Mahathir and PPBM, which could see the ruling outfit’s votes split should they go head-to-head in the polls.
PPBM could also bank in on the influence of veteran politicians like Tan Sri Muhyiddin. And Umno delegates are very much aware of this.
Those debating today said while Dr Mahathir may have contributed significantly to Umno, the 91-year old has turned against them and the party.
“He was once our president. But now he is insulting our presidential institution. He wanted our loyalty then. Now he has betrayed us,” said Terengganu delegate Datuk Mohd Sabri Alwi.
Party loyalty and racial unity were also the core of Najib’s message in his opening speech of this year’s annual general assembly.
Umno’s loyalty and unity are crucial to its strength and survival, he said.
Delegates will continue to debate Najib’s speech at the Umno AGM tomorrow.
The meeting will conclude on Saturday.