Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi spent a large part of his address to delegates attending the party assembly today condemning PAS and Bersatu as traitors to the Malays and Islam, lacing his speech with praise of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and examples of institutions which he said showed Umno's commitment to raising the stature of Islam.
But it was his mention of jailed former president Najib Razak that drew loud applause and cheers from an otherwise sombre audience attending the Umno general assembly at the World Trade Centre.
When Zahid dedicated several lines of his speech to Najib, it was met with a standing ovation, with some delegates lifting posters of the former prime minister urging for his release.
"Umno's stand has not changed in calling for justice for Najib," he said, urging Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor to be patient.
"Allah is with those who are patient. Hopefully, Allah will answer all of our prayers."
Much of Zahid's speech was dedicated to praising Anwar as well as emphasising Umno's commitment to helping the Malays.
"It was in this Dewan Merdeka that the idea to establish the International Islamic University was born. This man who wears clothes that are a bit different from ours was the first president of the university at that time," Zahid said, referring to Anwar who was among top Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders present at the Umno general assembly.
Zahid also thanked Anwar for agreeing to appoint Umno members to lead critical agencies related to Malay economic development.
"PM, thank you so much for your trust in Umno people," he said, giving a list of government agencies tasked with empowering the Malays and developing rural areas.
"To those who ride on race and religion, we ask them, where are the Malays and the Islam that they say have been sidelined by the Madani government?"
Zahid also lashed out at critics who questioned the Umno leadership's move to welcome its former political enemies.
"Even the portraits (of Umno leaders) in the hall being arranged to suit the event has been made into an issue. That is the difference between those who have small minds and us," he said in apparent jibe at former vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein, who recently questioned the removal of the portraits of Umno founders and past presidents during an event attended by PH leaders.
Acknowledging the loss of support from younger voters, Zahid nonetheless urged them to support the parties in the current federal government at the coming state elections.
"The time has come for the children of Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu outstation to think about the fate of their parents who live in these states.
"Don't let it be that for the sake of one vote, we abandon our parents to face the troubles of life.
"This is the time to stand together with the unity government," Zahid said, voicing confidence in wresting back these three states from Perikatan Nasional.