PEKAN: UMNO vice-president, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today refuted speculations that he has joined or is involved in the establishment of a new party purportedly known as Parti Reformasi Bersatu Negara which went viral on social media since yesterday.

Ismail Sabri who is also Senior Minister (Security Cluster) stressed that he is loyal to UMNO which he joined more than three decades ago, apart from not being engaged in discussions with several leaders linked to leading the new party.

“I live and die with UMNO. If I were to stop being in politics, I will also stop being in UMNO. There is no issue of me joining another party as the news is only to confuse the people.

“I only came to know about it yesterday when asked by people… I do not know whose party it is or who and how my name is in it,” he told reporters after attending a People’s Gathering in Felda Chini 3 here today.

Ismail Sabri also did not rule out the possibility of the issue of setting up a new party by quarters who want to create a false perception that there is a problem in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government today.

He was commenting on allegations that his name was listed as the deputy president of the party which would be chaired by Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin apart from a list comprising several ministers and leaders of other political parties.

In another development, Ismail Sabri reminded voters of Chini state constituency to come out to vote for Barisan Nasional (BN) which is seen as facing an easy task in retaining the seat.

“Even though we are being challenged by only independent candidates, we should not take it easy, as a contest is still a contest. Do not be indifferent on the matter as this is our stronghold,” he said.

Ismail Sabri is also optimistic that Chini residents would favour BN’s candidate, as the performance of the Perikatan Nasional government has been proven over its capability in steering the country as Malaysia has emerged as one of best countries in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apart from that, the spirit of Muafakat Nasional between UMNO and PAS is also seen as a factor for a BN victory in the Chini by-election considering the series of wins in by-elections since forging the cooperation in early 2019.

Polling for the Chini by-election on July 4 will see BN’s candidate, Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41, being challenged by two Independent candidates namely businessman Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin, 64, and Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, 49, who is a blog writer.

The by-election was held following the death of its incumbent Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun, 60, on May 7 in Kuala Lumpur Hospital of a heart attack.

In the 14th general election, Abu Bakar representing BN won with a 4,622-vote majority after obtaining 10,027 votes to defeat Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim of PAS who received 5,405 votes while Mohamad Razali Ithnain of PKR garnered only 1,065 votes. – BERNAMA

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