We need people who will go the extra mile, says Zambry

(NST) KUALA LUMPUR: Losing to Pas in the Bukit Gantang by-election was a blow, not only to Barisan Nasional but also to Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

The loss had a sobering effect on BN and a lot needs to be done by the coalition to regain the trust of the people, especially in the Chinese-majority areas.

Bukit Gantang had been BN's stronghold until the 2008 general election, when BN candidate and Umno treasurer Datuk Seri Azim Zabidi lost to Pas' Roslan Shaharom.

And at the April 7 by-election, BN again failed to win the seat. Ousted menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin of Pas defeated BN's Ismail Saffian by a 2,798- vote majority.

In an interview with New Straits Times, Zambry said Perak BN had accepted the loss.

"It is, after all, the decision of the people and we respect that. We are not denying our defeat. But Pas did not win hands down. Ismail put up a good fight but the odds were stacked against us.

"Pas claimed its victory was the people's referendum. Pas was confident of an overwhelming win that even during campaigns Nizar went about claiming they already had 70 per cent of the Malay votes and 85 per cent support from the Chinese.

"He wanted to prove that he was not DAP's stooge.

"But his win only reinforced this because the majority of the votes came from the Chinese community."

Zambry said BN saw an increase in support, especially among the Malays.

"The Chinese are not as supportive of Pas, but they voted for Pas because of its close alliance with DAP."

And the menteri besar said BN must not be seen as an Umno entity but a family of the 14 component parties. Umno must take a new approach. It cannot use the old methodology in this new environment.

"For instance, we cannot look any longer at the numbers attending our dinners or parties to assess our support.

"We need a whole-hearted effort to produce new jihadists who are passionate and who will go the extra mile for the party.

"We need people with firm conviction, not someone who says one thing and does another."

Zambry also said BN had to be humble and accept the Bukit Gantang loss as a lesson.

"There is no need to pretend and deny that we lost the people's support.

"We have to fine-tune our efforts. There are still people behind us who are unconditionally loyal."

On the Perak state assembly, Zambry said the government still had until May 13 to convene a meeting.

"Like it or not, we have to convene by then. As the menteri besar appointed by the ruler, I will seek consent from the Perak sultan on this matter. It is not for the speaker to do so.

"I hope he (Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar) will abide by all rules and not turn the assembly into a circus or war zone.

"He must behave in a civilised manner and adhere to the principles of natural justice and not impose anything according to his whims and fancies like barring me from attending the assembly."