Kota Kinabalu (The Star/ANN) - Leaders will come and go but the party that has served them well all these years will stay and continue with its business of running the country, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
He carried his message into the hot-beds of Beaufort and Tuaran, where the incumbent MPs have left the Barisan to become opposition-friendly.
Beaufort MP Lajim Ukin, an ex-Umno supreme council member and former Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister, and Tuaran MP Datuk Wilfred Bumburing left the ruling coalition last year.
They have since formed non-governmental organisations aligned to the Opposition and are likely to contest as PKR candidates in the general election.
"The people must not worry about losing their leaders. This is a norm in politics," Najib told a gathering in Beaufort yesterday.
"What is important is for Malaysians to rally around the party that has served them and the nation well over all these years," he said, urging the people to continue giving the mandate to Barisan Nasional.
Najib, who is Barisan chief and Umno president, said the party's struggle was more important than that of individuals.
"Even I cannot say I am important. Likewise, other leaders, too," he said, pointing out that despite party founder Onn Jaafar resigning from the party in its early years, Umno continued to grow stronger.
"A leader leaving is not a big deal. What is important is for the people to continue giving the mandate to Barisan to administer this nation well," he said.
In this regard, said Najib, there was no reason for the people of Beaufort to worry about Lajim "changing direction".
He said the people could judge the opposition by their track record.
"They organise rallies but what have the people gained from it all?" he asked.
On the other hand, added Najib, Barisan had done good for the people, citing the BR1M handouts that had now been also extended to young people.
In Tuaran, the prime minister said the rakyat had looked at Barisan, not Bumburing, when they voted him in at the last election.
"For this reason, I am confident Barisan will retain the seat," said Najib.
Earlier in Papar, he urged Sabahans to continue their support for Barisan so that the state was not left out of the mainstream of national development.
"The opposition comes here and talks a lot but what do the people get? They (the opposition) make promises but can they deliver?" the prime minister asked, adding that Barisan had delivered its promises.
Najib announced a 226 million ringgit allocation for a water treatment plant in Beaufort and the upgrading of a 35km road between Lok Kawi and Papar as well as 26 million ringgit to repair 5,200 houses of poor families in Sabah.