KOTA KINABALU: Hajiji Noor, who heads the ruling state coalition, was the guest-of-honour at Sabah Umno’s 30th anniversary celebrations here tonight, making his first public appearance at an Umno function since leaving the party in late 2018.
Hajiji is now head of Sabah Perikatan Nasional and Sabah PPBM, and became chief minister last September when Gabungan Rakyat Sabah took power.
He arrived at about 8pm, accompanied by Bung Moktar Radin, head of Sabah Umno and Sabah Barisan Nasional. Bung is deputy chief minister in Hajiji’s government.
They were joined by other senior Sabah Umno leaders at the main table such as state Umno deputy chief Yakub Khan, former federal minister and Usukan assemblyman Salleh Said Keruak and Sabah Wanita Umno chief Jainab Ahmad Ayid, among others.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi joined via video conferencing and delivered a speech to the audience.
At a press conference later, Bung said the party had decided to invite former leaders to its anniversary as they were part of Umno’s history in Sabah. “Although we have different struggles now but our aim is the same which is to develop Sabah and its people,” he told reporters.
He said GRS was a good platform which combined national and local-based parties but with one single target which is to bring the state forward. “We have more than four years to ensure we deliver the people’s demands and aspirations.”
To a question, Bung said Sabah Umno did not mind being the dominant party in the state. “This is not a problem because we are part of the government. What’s important is we are contributing in the development of the state and the people,” he said.
When asked whether Sabah Umno is fully behind Zahid amid calls from some members for the latter to step down as president, Bung said they will always back the present leadership.
“Whoever is the leader, we will support. As state leaders, we must treat politics as a system. When people below us see that we do not respect the leadership, then they will also do similarly,” he said.