KOTA KINABALU: Umno appreciates the loyalty of its grassroots that stayed intact when leaders fled the party after it lost grip on the federal government in 2018, says Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.
The Umno vice-president said the backbone of Umno's strength was its members at the grassroots level who did not give up despite being tested by the situation of losing some of its top leaders.
"In 2018, when some of our friends in Umno at the leadership level left the party, the grassroots stayed intact," he said at the joint opening of branch meetings in Bengkoka and Pitas under the Kudat Umno division in northern Sabah.
Without making any direct reference to 2018's massive exodus of top Sabah Umno leaders to Bersatu, Mahdzir said the party continued its struggle with the strength of its grassroots.
According to Mahdzir, who is also the Rural Development Minister, it is the members who are loyal to the party who have continued the survival of Umno throughout the country.
"Umno members should also no longer be ashamed to wear red shirts that symbolise Umno," he said at the function attended by Sabah Umno chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who was among the few Umno leaders who did not quit the party.
In the 22 months of being in the Opposition, Mahdzir said Umno had faced many challenges and was even tested in various by-elections.
He said that Umno and Bung were tested in the Kimanis by-election as well as the snap Sabah election last year.
Mahdzir said Umno's win in Kimanis and the victory in the Sabah state election has put the party and Barisan Nasional back as the leaders of the state government.
"From Perlis to Sabah, Umno is a party with a structure at all levels. We must continue to strengthen the party to face the 15th General Election, Umno's strength is at the grassroots. We just want to win the election and restore the national development agenda.
"Discard the crab mentality where one goes up the box, and other pulls it down to fall so that no one gets out. Avoid such an attitude in Umno. Let us all show solidarity to continue the party's struggle and agenda," he added.