Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eyeing Najib's determination for the way forward

Umno for all


PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday said the time had come for Umno to take charge of the welfare and well-being of not only Malays and Bumiputeras but also all Malaysians.

The prime minister said Umno, while representing the interests of Malays and Bumiputeras, had to change with the times to also look after the interests of people of other races.

This was in line with the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now”, which was gaining acceptance from all, he said.

“We have come to a stage where Umno is seen as a party which looks after the welfare and well-being of all Malaysians. Although Umno is a party for Malays and Bumiputeras, it should be allowed to take charge of the interests of all people,” the Umno president said in an interview with Bernama here.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak says people will support Barisan Nasional if they are a satisfied lot
Datuk Seri Najib Razak says people will support Barisan Nasional if they are a satisfied

Najib said this when asked about the message and image which Umno wanted to bring to its general assembly and special general assembly to amend its constitution, which would be held over two days from tomorrow.

However, he said, this did not mean that Umno would open its doors to all.

“It does not mean that we focus on our members only... but we must expand on what we can do in terms of delivering our message and fulfilling the people’s aspirations and resolving their problems of the people.”

He said this was why he emphasised on “people first” because the people would support the Barisan Nasional (BN) government if they were satisfied.

He said the big BN victory in the Bagan Pinang by-election in Negri Sembilan on Sunday was a crucial point in the process to restore the spirits of Umno members.

“Umno should strive harder and in a more organised manner to achieve bigger victories. We still have bigger responsibilities and duties which we have to discharge with commitment. Only then can we assume that Umno is on a strong and solid foundation.”

In this connection, he said, Umno should undergo a process of change and renewal, besides retaining the traditions and noble values it had upheld.
“Umno must also portray itself as as dynamic and progressive.”

For his maiden policy address as party president at the Umno general assembly tomorrow, he said he would continue to emphasise the message and theme he had introduced since taking over the party and government earlier this year

“I have pledged to bring change and renewal in terms of government policies and our methodologies so that they are in tune with the situation and the times. The same goes for the party as well.”

On the proposed Umno constitutional amendments, he said this was the first time in the history of Umno that such radical constitutional amendments had been proposed for adoption at the special general assembly.

He said previous amendments were more procedural in nature but this time around they were more substantial because they touched on the electoral process itself, making entry into the party more open and inclusive.

“It is difficult to change people, but we can put in place a tighter and more transparent election system of elections.”

The proposed amendments are expected to abolish the nomination quota system for candidates vying for top posts in the party and involve the participation of more grassroots members in the election process.

This will make the elections more open and transparent as well as stem money politics.

He said that if a member wanted to exploit the new system by buying votes, the risk would be too great because the number of delegates involved would be 150,000.

“If the person were to try that, he would be found out and action can be taken against him.”

He said it would be impossible to conceal attempts to buy votes from 150,000 delegates. Up to now, the fate of leaders waswere determined by 2,500 delegates only.

“Change the system and the system will modify the behaviour of members.”
He said Umno’s disciplinary committee and code of ethics were still in place to check money politics.

He said it was only through this effort that the party could portray itself as a dignified and clean party with integrity and continue to have the support of the people.

Najib said this was important because people, especially the younger generation and the educated, wished to see an Umno of quality.

Asked whether there had been objections from grassroots members to the proposed minimum conditions for an individual contesting top posts, he said there had been none but the final decision would be made at the special general assembly.

There has been a proposal for a contestant of any top post to have been a member of the supreme council for a specific period.

Asked whether his own position could be threatened by the proposed amendments, he said: “My fate is in the hands of Umno members and the people ... My goal is to work. I want to serve well and with full commitment in the interests of the people and nation. That is the only thing on my mind.”

Asked what the conclusion he could draw in relation to the mood of the party members now compared with the time of the general election last year when some Umno members were said to have voted for the opposition, he said: “There has been a change inat the grassroots towards Umno and Barisan Nasional. We have to push on with the momentum.

“We cannot afford to be complacent. Even thoughPeople say that though we won big in Bagan Pinang, one swallow does not make a summer.” So, we have to do what we have to do based on the work drawn up and with commitment.”

Asked whether Umno could be rehabilitated in time for the next general election, he said Umno must always be ready for the next general election, although the term of the government or Parliament was until March 2013.

He said the first signal which delegates had to send to Umno members, Malays and the people was that Umno was a strong party.

The second, he said, was that Umno had got the message of the 2008last general election and that it was putting forward an image which was more dynamic, progressive and free of defects .

Umno was a party which could change according to the times and ensure its relevance, he said.

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