KUALA LUMPUR: The Umno 69th annual general assembly (AGM) ends in a high pitch as the Umno members all over the country silently cried in happiness when party president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak offer an olive branch to the party’s ‘rebels’ which can be interpreted as including former president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The ‘big heart’ Najib captured the hearts of members and in particular his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Dr Mahathir when he called them, although he did not mention any names, to return to the fold to strengthen the party.
It is not known whether the offer means Najib has forgive Muhyiddin, Shafie and Dr Mahathir but it takes a leader with a big heart to make the move and Najib shows his sincerity.
Several interpretations have been made over the offer but majority took it as a sign of forgiveness and now the ball is on the feet of the three leaders to act on it – positively or negatively.
Delegates when met while walking out of the hall remarked Najib had allowed himself to stoop low as to offer the olive branch, a very humble act from the president of the ruling party and if the three leaders did not react positively, the Malays on the whole, not just Umno members will perceive the three leaders have declared war and the delegates added they were willing to fight on the side of the party president.
Najib’s objectives in making the offer is to have a united party free ofÂ enmity given the change in the country’s political environment and landscape following the erosion of Malay political dominance if the result of 2008 and 2013 general elections are to be taken into consideration.
Umno’s support and influence has been eroding slowly as the younger generation distance themselves from the party that has been the protector of Malaysians, particularly Malays and Islam since its formation 69 years ago.
Oppositions Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and PAS have been getting the support of young voters as Umno is seen as being an elite party whose leaders are seen as not ‘friendly’ enough with them.
DAP on the other hand, has succeeded in capturing the Chinese voters, leaving the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) Chinese-based party MCA and Gerakan’s multi-racial but majority Chinese members and supporters in limbo and seen irrelevant in the present political environment.
Given that Umno as the backbone of BN and the only party that can rescue the coalition from further fall, Najib does the only thing that is wise and sensible – strengthen Umno and widen its support among party with similar philosophy and objectives.
Two moves that Najib announced that could see the BN and the Malays can overcome the declining influence were offer party ‘rebels’ to return and extending the hand of friendship with PAS.
Although PAS leaders had reiterated time and again that the party could go it alone under any circumstances after the fall-out with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and now the newly formed Pakistan Harapan (PH), the staunched and loyal Islamist party members and supporters at grassroots level are angry with DAP for its leaders act in humiliating party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
Added to this is the newly formed Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) whose leaders the grassroots see as being the political stooges of DAP.
Amanah, since its formation has yet to make its presence relevant as its objectives do not attract PAS members given the former has lost its Islamic aim.
Given PAS’ position, the Islamist party grassroots may pressure their leaders to work with Umno to defend Islam and the Malay dominance in the country’s political scene as without it, the Malays may lose everything they have.
Thus, Najib’s offer to PAS may work out well for both parties and Islam inÂ the coming years and probably the country’s political landscape may change further.
Given the above, the 69th Umno AGM can be considered as a historical assembly that may see Najib completing his late father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s aspiration of a united Malay and Malaysian.-MYNEWSHUB.CC/Text: Hassan Idris