KOTA KINABALU, July 10 — Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today that Rural Development Minister Datuk Abd Latiff Ahmad’s statement belittling Sabah Umno was his personal opinion and did not reflect the stand of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).
Ismail Sabri said Bersatu leaders especially in Sabah had never condemned Umno in the state.
“The statement was made by an individual, one of the Bersatu leaders, and did not come from the whole Bersatu leadership.
“Even in Sabah we did not hear any Sabah Bersatu leaders condemning us (Umno) or welcoming Datuk Latiff’s statement,” he told a press conference here.
Abd Latiff, who is Mersing Member of Parliament from Bersatu, had been reported as saying at a public forum that Sabah Umno was no longer relevant.
However, Abd Latiff has since publicly apologised and said his statement on Sabah Umno had been misinterpreted by certain quarters and caused offence to others.
Ismail Sabri, who is Defence Minister, said Sabah Umno remained strong, as evident from its victory in the Kimanis by-election early this year.
He said Sabah Umno would take Abd Latiff’s comment as a challenge to work harder and do even better in the 15th general election.
Abd Latiff’s statement would not affect the cooperation between Umno and Bersatu in Perikatan Nasional (PN), he added.
Meanwhile, Sabah Umno chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin said he was disappointed that the statement had come from a minister as it showed a lack of respect for a friend in the PN government. — Bernama