KUALA TERENGGANU: The Barisan Nasional machinery for the Kuala Terengganu by-election received an earful last night, as its chief Datuk Seri Najib Razak moved to repair weaknesses that have so far hobbled its momentum.
In pointed reminders to Umno leaders and the BN candidate himself, Najib, who is deputy BN chairman, told them to put their personal agendas aside and make drastic changes to make themselves more appealing to voters.
Though Najib did not refer to him by name, he told Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh to correct perceptions that he was an elitist and aloof and adopt mannerisms more in tune with the constituency’s voters.
Wan Farid has been characterised in previous reports as being too urbane, arrogant and out of touch with Kuala Terengganu residents, many of whom are rustic in outlook.
To the many Umno leaders who have descended here, Najib said they should shelve their personal ambitions and intentions to use the by-election to lobby for votes from Umno members ahead of the party’s elections in March.
His reprimands drew boisterous cheers from hundreds of ordinary Umno members who turned up at the Islamic Civilisation Park convention centre to watch Najib launch the machinery for the Wanita, Youth and Puteri BN.
This was because the problems that he addressed were widely seen as the core faults within the BN effort in Kuala Terengganu that have demoralised its rank-and-file workers and caused them to lose momentum in their campaign.
“Our theme for this campaign is that BN is rakyat-friendly and we must reflect this in everything we do. From how we meet and greet the voters to how we carry ourselves.
“We must be servants to the people. That is the key to our victory,” he said.
In a pointed message to Wan Farid, Najib said: “We must greet everyone from the front of their doorsteps all the way to the back of their kitchens and you must look them in the eye when you do it.
“We must remember that this is a kampung atmosphere. The people here do not care how highly educated you are as they put a premium in how courteous and approachable you are. They do not want an elitist. So salam and wave to everyone even if you are tired.”
To the many Umno supreme council hopefuls in the audience, Najib said they should put their contests aside and stand shoulder-to-shoulder to campaign for the BN.
Source : New Straits Times