KOTA KINABALU: Muslim bumiputras are more united and this solidarity has led to political stability in Sabah following Umno’s presence in the state, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said on Tuesday.
The Umno Supreme Council member hit out at the criticism made by State Reform Party (STAR) president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan over Umno's presence in the state.
Rahman, who is also the Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary, said any political party including Umno has the right to serve in the state in accordance to the law.
"Through this political stability, everyone focused their time and energy for the development of Sabah and did not have to play politics for 24 hours," the Kota Belud MP said in a statement.
The Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister also said that Sabah’s economy was seen to be growing rapidly with Umno's presence and he described it as an "undeniable fact".
"The harmony between the state and Federal Government provided a catalyst for this development," he added.
Rahman pointed out that for the first time in the history of Sabah politics, the people in the state had a role and influence in determining who would become the Umno president and subsequently be Malaysia's premier.
He said Jeffrey should remember that Umno's presence in Sabah previously was partly due to the drastic decision of Party Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to withdraw from the BN after the nomination day.
"In fact, many people said Jeffrey himself was involved in the PBS decision to leave the BN. Why did Jeffrey not blame himself?" he asked.
He said Jeffrey, who is also the State Assemblyman for Bingkor, had said that Umno should be rejected by the people of Sabah because it was purportedly an external party.
"The question is, why did Jeffrey choose the STAR party from Sarawak to be the patron? Isn't STAR an external party, too?" he asked.
Rahman said the people of Sabah particularly the Muslim bumiputras had never been forced to support Umno and they joined the party out of their own free will.
He said this was because they felt that it was a party that could be used as the basis for their struggles.
"Now, the total Umno membership in Sabah is close to half a million. And for Jeffrey's information, almost 20% of Sabah bumiputras who are non-Muslims, have joined Umno," he added. -- BERNAMA