PUTRAJAYA: Â UMNO Youth is committed to pursuing issues such as housing, education and employment opportunities that are in line with the needs and demands of the younger generation, said its leader Khairy Jamaluddin.
These issues, he said, formed the essence of the wing’s struggle as today’s reality was that youths tended to view politics as the appropriate platform to help them attain a better quality of life.
As such, UMNO Youth would have to beef up its role from merely being a pressure group to being service-oriented, he said, adding that it would have to come up with various initiatives to help youths.
“We’re still a pressure group and will continue to have our voice heard, particularly on important issues involving governance. But we have to focus more on our products and programmes that have an impact on the daily lives of the younger generation.
“We will pursue the housing issue… we will (also) pursue the education issue through the Barisan Nasional (BN) Youth Education Scholarship programme. Then, there’s the BN Youth Career Carnival… and the Proskill programme for youths to equip themselves with skills and this has received good response,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama, in conjunction with the 2015 UMNO General Assembly to be held in Kuala Lumpur from Dec 8 to 12.
Khairy, who is Youth and Sports Minister, said the wing would propose several measures during its delegates meeting next week to help curtail the escalating cost of living.
On UMNO Vice President Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s remarks on Nov 24 that the party was facing a crisis of confidence among the Malays, the Rembau Member of Parliament agreed that it was indeed going through trying times.
Khairy said it was vital that UMNO took immediate steps to regain the support and trust of not only the Malays but all the people well before the 14th General Election, which is due in 2018.
He outlined several measures which, he believed, would help to prop up the party’s image.
“Firstly, we in UMNO (must) unite and secondly, we (must) be willing to receive the views of outsiders – not viewpoints that cause disunity but the views of Malays who are not in the party leadership.
“UMNO must rise again to become a party belonging to all Malays and not just those holding party posts. In the past, UMNO was for all Malays but now the perception is that UMNO is only for them to hold posts. And, this is what we have to change,” he said.
Commenting on the presence of dissidents in the party, he said members should by right use next week’s general assembly as a platform to show their commitment and loyalty to the party to ensure its continuity.
According to Khairy, the majority of the party leaders and delegates remain loyal to the party and the President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, and were confident that all the issues besetting UMNO would be resolved.
“Whether it is the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) issue, donation issue or others, we will give the president a chance to resolve it and we can sense the sincerity.
“More and more changes have started in 1MDB, (and among them are) investigations by PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and the sale of assets to reduce debts. We certainly can see that efforts are being made… we have to give the president space to implement whatever that have been promised,” he said.
He also reminded UMNO members that if they wished to voice out their dissatisfaction against the leadership or raise any issue, they should do so discreetly through the proper channels.
Khairy said in expressing criticisms, members should not cast doubts on the party’ leadership as it may tarnish UMNO’s image and disrupt unity.
“Let’s not (go to the extent of) burning the mosquito netting… if you’re not satisfied, raise the issue within the party. I myself have met the president to raise several issues over which I had some dissatisfaction but (I) did it in a discreet manner,” he added.
On the opening of the Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings’ delegates meetings by their respective leaders instead of the party deputy president as was the practice previously, Khairy said he saw it as an honour for the heads of the three wings.
“We still have the presidential briefing on Tuesday (Dec 8) and the president’s policy address at the opening of the UMNO General Assembly. The scope for our key leaders to speak is still there, the only thing is some changes have been made this year,” he said.
On talk that only party president was expected to deliver the winding-up speech at the end of the five-day assembly, Khairy said this had yet to be finalised and that the views of delegates would be taken into consideration.
“If the delegates are of the opinion that we should collectively accord our respect to the president, then that’s our decision.
“We want to end this year by speaking with one voice in order to safeguard the party’s unity. Hence, if we open the winding-up session to others, it may have an undesirable impact.
“The situation today calls for UMNO to remain united as any split (in the party) will spell big trouble when it’s time for us to face the general election,” he said.