KUALA LUMPUR – Prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the fact that he is the first Umno president elected through a system that is more open and democratic after the amendment of the party constitution should be respected by all party members.
Thus, he said, calls by several parties for him to relinquish his position were improper as they ignored the wishes of the majority of party members.
“As the party president, I am most thankful for your support, and why was I chosen? Through what process? Through the election process in the party, where the party constitution was amended (in 2009),” he said when addressing the guests at the Umno Veterans’ Evening With the President, at the Putra World Trade Centre, here Monday.
Najib said the election system for the top leadership now was more open and transparent compared to the previous system, where it used the bonus vote and quota system to retain the top party posts.
He said that if he had wanted to retain the top leadership post for 22 years like the fourth prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (1981-2003), he would not have agreed with the suggestion to amend the party constitution.
Najib said while Umno was facing numerous challenges, he would continue to struggle in the interest of the party and strive to improve whatever weaknesses there were.
“We want to look after the party, we cannot destroy our party, (because) our party is our saviour…the Malays have no where else to go to depend on except for this hallowed party. Do not destroy Umno, Love Umno and Look after Umno,” he said, adding that every problem could be rectified and resolved through consensus.
According to Najib, although Umno was facing numerous challenges, the party was still strong and could still lead the nation.
“Only when we are divided from within, then it can result in us losing power,” he said.
Meanwhile, Najib reminded those present that his involvement in politics was to continue the struggles of his late father, Tun Abdul Razak who was also the second prime minister.
“If the late Tun Abdul Razak was the father of development, the founder of the NEP (New Economic Policy), creator of MARA (Majlis Amanah Rakyat), Felda (Federal Land Development Authority), RISDA (Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority), BERNAS (Padiberas Nasional Berhad), Bank Bumiputra and various other agencies and bodies.
“Then I as his son, am determined to not only continue his struggles, but also take our country, the Malaysians, the Malays, to greater heights. This is my commitment,” he said.
He pointed out that every policy that he introduced and implemented did not deviate from the party’s principles and struggles.
The prime minister said although the NEP no longer existed, the agenda to empower the Malays and Bumiputeras would continue to be promoted to become the national agenda as long as he was leading the administration.
For example, he said, the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project between Sungai Buloh and Kajang allocated almost 48 per cent of the overall contracts to Bumiputera-owned companies.
“Who said (the policy of the Barisan Nasional government now) does not help the Malays and Bumiputera? Not only does it help, it even strengthens such policy.
“Previously there was no Teraju (Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit), now there is Teraju to coordinate the agenda to empower the Bumiputeras where we meet every month,” he added.
In addition, Najib said, he had long struggled for the interests of the Malay and Bumiputera students, including the initiative to boost the integrity of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) way back during his tenure as the Education Minister (1995 – 1999).
“Who empowered ITM (Institut Teknologi Mara) to become a university? Was it not me when I was the Education Minister then? Who set the target of 200,000 student entry into UiTM? Was it not me when I was the Deputy Prime Minister then?” he added.
Regarding the ‘negative perception’ of the community on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) investment fund, Najib said he was optimistic the matter could be resolved using the right formula.
“(If) there are problems, we rectify them, we discuss through consensus to reach a solution. I am convinced that there are no problems that cannot be resolved because they have their (own) formula, including the 1MDB which has its formula,” he added.
The prime minister reminded everyone against politicising things carried out by the government in the interest of the people, for example the purchase of the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) land by Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) recently.
“TH made a purchase, what was good became bad. The story was twisted as though the depositors’ funds were used for the purchase…(they) became angry when they only hear but do not know the facts.
“But after knowing, they hit their foreheads, (they) say the TH should have kept it, because it can earn more than RM180 million in profits,” he said.
In addition, Najib also expressed his appreciation to Umno veterans under the leadership of Tan Sri Tajol Rosli Ghazali as the chairman, for continuing to support his leadership.
He said the support of all party members, including the Umno veterans, did not mean it was their support for him personally, but the support was to ensure that the party remained relevant to lead the nation.