KUALA LUMPUR – The importance of the 14th general election trumps the Umno election as the party is now on the “last mile” before the country goes to the polls, says Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein.
He said the president’s message to the leaders was well received by delegates.
“We have to start our preparations from now. Last year the president told us to be prepared and in this one year we have done many things.
“Now it comes down to the last mile. This is where we strengthen our efforts, stick together and make sure our efforts are not focused on the party election but on the GE.
“We have to assume the GE can even be tomorrow,” he said when met at the sidelines of the Umno General Assembly 2017 at the Putra World Trade Centre here today.
Hishammuddin, who is defence minister, added that the party must always come first.
“I think it’s important for them to put the party first above everything else as we face the general election. It is not the delegates in the hall that are important but the people out there.
“The president has reminded us to put the party’s interest above our individual interest.”
Umno supreme council member Johari Abdul Ghani said Najib had stressed on unity as the key in facing GE14.
“He said with the strengthening economy, grassroots and branch leaders can engage the people and work together to ensure each Parliament seat has a candidate.
“We have to compromise to ensure that Barisan Nasional will still govern the country,” said Johari, who is also second finance minister.
Meanwhile, former Selangor menteri besar Muhammad Taib said Najib had asked Umno to put aside big problems and solve the small ones in order to prepare for GE14.
“Najib asked us to make sure the machinery was ready for GE14 as it could be called at any time. This battle cry was well-received by the leaders.
“The president didn’t reveal who the candidates may be and spoke in general. He however, said the machinery must pack a strong punch,” Muhammed said.
He added that Najib had also spoken about how the strengthening ringgit can be used as a “feel good factor”.
“At one point the ringgit was RM4.50 to the US dollar and now it’s just below RM4. This shows the strength in our financial system,” Muhammad said referring to the latest rates according to Maybank, where US$1 would get RM3.97 at the counter.