SUNGAI PETANI: Two Sungai Petani Umno strongmen – division chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Saad and Pantai Merdeka assemblyman Datuk Ali Yahaya – have finally buried the hatchet.
Umno vice-president performing the duties of deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi mediated the truce between factions headed by the two when opening the Sungai Petani Umno division meeting yesterday.
The bad blood between the men has been going on for years with both commanding support from members of the division.
In the 2013 tussle for the division chief post, Ali, who was the incumbent, lost to Abdul Rahim by 12 votes.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is Deputy Prime Minister, said the two should now work together for the next general election or Barisan Nasional will risk losing the Sungai Petani parliamentary seat again.
He asked them to hug as a symbolic gesture that both have set aside their past conflicts, which got the delegates on the floor standing and cheering.
“If they can work together, then both will have a place in the next general election.
“But if I get reports that they are still not getting along, then both will not stand a chance.
“There should be no more Camp Rahim or Camp Ali in the next general election, only Sungai Petani Umno division,” Dr Ahmad Zahid said.
He said that it was the years of infighting within the party that had cost it Sungai Petani, not because the Opposition was strong.
“The Opposition is not strong. We are weak. If we are weak and disunited, they will have the advantage. Enough, no more splits,” he added.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said that based on an analysis of past general elections, the voters in Sungai Petani were made up of 60.86% Malays, 27.6% Chinese and 11.3% Indians, with about 100,000 voters in total.
Speaking at the opening of the Kulim/Bandar Baharu Umno division meeting, Dr Ahmad Zahid urged members never to let Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak be alone in facing up to accusations by the Opposition.
“We have to rise and back him up on what he is doing for the good of the people and Umno members,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said it was public knowledge that influential former key Umno leaders were those who often attacked the party and that it was the responsibility of members to ensure that these people became politically irrelevant.