Umno must change or risk losing the next general elections

By Neville Spykerman and Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani.

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 20 – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today said Barisan National (BN) must meet the demands of the people or face punishment during the next general elections.

"BN must win the hearts of Malaysians by ensuring all government programmes are in line with the aspirations the people," he said in the first acknowledgement since last weekend's Kuala Terengganu by election of the need for reforms in Umno and BN.

Najib said BN could ill afford to allow disconnectedness to exist between the needs of the people and government policy.

Najib, who was launching a book, entitled 'New Politics' by Entrepreneur and Corporative Development Deputy Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, said BN had no choice but to change.

"Malaysians are now more matured and no longer interested in rhetoric's or empty promises. They want results and leaders who are responsible."

Najib said BN leaders need a paradigm shift and need to come out of their comfort zone in order to bring about change.

He drew a comparison with the politics of  change, which was the winning theme in president-elect Barack Obama's presidential campaign, in the United States.

"Obama managed to tap this wave of change to get nominated and elected, as the first African American president."

Najib said in Malaysia, BN is sensitive to the wave of change sweeping through the country and must reinvent itself to meet the challenge.

Meanwhile Saifuddin said Unmo was asking for trouble if it does not change, in the wake of March 8 and the Kuala Terengganu by-elections.

He said his book, based on compilation of his thoughts and writing on politics, challenges the establishment to practice participatory democracy.

"For far too long the business and civil community have been excluded from the process and structure of decision making."

The Termeloh Member of Parliament said the government must adopt new politics which is more  inclusive, in their administration.

Saifuddin said his book stresses that politicians need a high degree of idealism and integrity.

He said many in Umno were ready for this change and were looking for a signal from party leaders and the new Umno president to lead the way.

"We cannot afford incremental change but need a quantum revivalism of Umno and BN."