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Shafie Apdal’s photos with BN campaigners fuel speculation of U-turn
Published:  Jun 7, 2016 6:47 PM
Updated: 1:03 PM

Umno vice-president Mohd Shafie Apdal has raised eyebrows after posting photographs of himself with BN campaigners for the Sungai Besar by-election on Facebook.

This led to speculation on whether he had abandoned the Umno rebels, who have vowed to oust Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Last July, Shafie, along with suspended Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin, were removed from the cabinet for being critical of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over the 1MDB scandal and the revelation of billions in his personal bank accounts.

In the photographs, the surprised BN campaigners were seen shaking Shafie's hand and embracing him.

The photographs come amid plans by Umno rebels, led by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to campaign against BN in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.

BN's opponents have described the by-elections as a referendum on the prime minister's leadership.

Shafie in the Facebook posting denied that he had made a U-turn, stressing that he had always been loyal to Umno.

His message appeared cryptic, as the former rural and regional development minister stressed that he would not fight for individuals and would ultimately place country over party.

"I am still an Umno member, still an Umno vice-president. The issue of making a U-turn does not arise nor does the issue of my loyalty to the party.

"As long as I am alive, I will continue to struggle for the rakyat, not for any individuals. I love my party, but I also love my country more than everything else," he said.

Since the onset, Shafie has taken a less confrontational approach against Najib compared to his Umno rebel colleagues.

Though pledging support for the Citizens' Declaration which called for Najib's removal as prime minister, he was not present during the announcement, unlike Muhyiddin and Mukhriz Mahathir.

Meanwhile, a source close to Shafie said the former minister was present during nomination on Sunday, but this had nothing to do with his stand.

Furthermore, he revealed that Shafie did not enter the nomination centre despite being invited to do so by several Umno leaders, including Selangor Umno liaison chief Noh Omar.

"Shafie was there to observe the situation, meet the people and supporters. He also used the opportunity to meet with his old friends in Selangor," he told Malaysiakini.

The source also stressed that the former minister does not intend to campaign for BN.