PASIR SALAK - Don't give our political enemies the satisfaction of breaking up Umno from within, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi warned party members.
The Umno vice-president said it was a known fact that external forces would not be able to destroy Malay unity but the ties that bind the race together could be weakened from inside.
"This is what our enemies are trying to do; to break us from inside by poisoning our minds and influencing our perception," he said at the Pasir Salak Umno division meeting's opening.
"We must not allow them to conquer our thinking, hearts and soul because if that happens, our party and Malay unity will be destroyed.
"I want to remind Umno members not to fall for our enemies' game of deception and swallow their poison when we should stand firmly behind our leaders."
Dr Ahmad Zahid said this was the reason that the Umno leadership always stressed the need for members to close ranks and be united even though they did not share the same view or opinion.
"We must not appear strong because our enemies are weak. We must be a solid and united team because that is what we are," he said, reminding the leadership at all levels to settle differences and not let it result in anger.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said while Umno was an institution that championed the Malay cause and Islam, the party did not sideline the rights of other races and religions.
The fact that Umno's partners in Barisan Nasional was present at the opening of the division meeting proved the good relations it had with the other races, he said.
"We need each other to ensure Barisan is a strong team to lead the country," he added.
Dr Ahmad Zahid warned party leaders not to be like a burung unta (ostrich).
He told a story of how the ostrich, when asked to fly, said that it was a camel instead.
"But when the bird is asked to carry goods like a camel, it refused, claiming to be a bird. When there's a problem or an enemy, the ostrich will hide its head in the sand.
"My message is this: Don't run or hide from responsibilities. We are given the position and people expect us to serve them.
"We cannot only be friendly and amiable to the grassroots when there's an election and ignore them when we have had the mandate."