Najib’s speech at 61st Umno General Assembly

By Bernama

In every crisis, Umno has managed to bounce back and stabilise the situation where all odds seemed stacked against us.

All this is because the members and leaders of Umno continued to have their feet planted firmly on the ground. All this is possible because the members and leaders of Umno never for a moment lost confidence in the true struggles of the party or lost hope in its leaders. The basic fact was that the noble principles of Umno had not only benefited the Malays but all Malaysians as well.

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 21, 2010): Following is the full text of the speech by Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the 61st Umno General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre, here today.

I begin my speech by inviting you to ponder two edicts of Allah SWT.

In Surah al-Baqarah, verse143, reads:

“And so we have made you a Muslim, part of the community at the centre in order that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger, who is  Muhammad, to be a witness of your actions.”

In surah ali-Imran, verse 159 also contains the edict which says:

“It was by the grace of Almighty Allah, you deal gently with them. If you are being hard-hearted, they would stay away from you. In view of that, do pardon them. Ask forgiveness for them and engage with them. “

Ladies and gentlemen,

Indeed, we are grateful to Allah SWT for His blessing that we are gathered once again in this august hall. Let us pray for the blessings of Prophet Muhammad  the venerable leader  and for always showing us the way.

If we are to undertake a count, then this 61st General Assembly marks the 25th time that the assembly is being held here since 1985. Therefore,  UMNO has come along away into adulthood since it started with tiny steps and then marching along the way over time.

In the meantime, whether consciously or not, for over six decades UMNO has lit the torch for the advancement of the Malays and safeguarding the interests of the nation. In this regard, we wish to state emphatically that over the past  the 64 years, the United Malays National Organisation or UMNO, has been the only shiny torch looking after the interests and soul of the Malays.

For this reason, no one can deny the massive influence and role of the party for generations where its leadership had faced various odds and challenges while being the driver of change in the country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

What we are striving for today, is not something new. Instead, it is a continuation of the aspirations of the Malays and Malaysians when we made the decision to seek independence. Therefore, since then, three major principles and beliefs that we have been consistent is that unity of the Malays unity as the core of national unity. Second, Islam as Addin and thirdly the prosperity of the nation as the pillar of social justice.

If we are to ascertain this, it was in the early 50’s that the President of UMNO then, the late Dato’ Onn Jaafar promoted the idea for the party’s membership to be opened to non-Malays as he saw the reality, in that independence could not be achieved without the various races agreeing to share power.

However, the  Dato ‘Onn’s proposal at the time  was deemed  as too progressive for UMNO members who felt the position of the Malays was still not that strong. As a result, it was opposed by the majority of UMNO members and leaders. In the end, Dato ‘Onn had to leave UMNO and went on to set up the Independence of Malaya Party set to continue with his goal.

In spite of this, the people in Umno have this to say:

Hidup sebumbung, di bawah teratak, Berlain bantal, satu hati, Bercerai kasih, bertalak tidak, Ibarat rambut, bersimpul mati.

On the other hand, although the idea by Dato ‘Onn at the time was not acceptable by UMNO, his successor, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, was aware of the importance of multi-ethnic political cooperation to achieve independence. Tunku then took on a strategy that was more realistic and acceptable by the majority of the Malays and others by pioneering an alliance among the various races.

The partnership which came into being in 1955 through a power-sharing partnership via the Alliance was by gathering UMNO, MCA and MIC, respectively to represent the interests of the Malays, Chinese and Indians. After the tragedy of May 13, 1969, the country’s leaders then realised that unity cannot be nurtured by only using political mechanisms without being underpinned by socio-economic foundations and social justice.

As such,  the late Tun Abdul Razak formulated and implemented the New Economic Policy with the aim of addressing the socio-economic disparities between the races that nearly destroyed the fabric of national unity. This new economic approach was made possible by the dynamism of the market system laid down by the late Tunku earlier.

Brothers and Sisters,

Here, I would like to draw the attention to some of us and others who might have overlooked that  the New Economic Policy was in fact based on the principle to foster national unity. The only difference was that the basic tools used were socioeconomic in nature, and not purely political as was  done previously by the leadership through the Alliance.

In the same breath, Tun Razak did not forget the importance of political mechanisms as tools to foster unity. He enlarged the base from the Alliance to establish Barisan Nasional or the National Front. Through this foundation of cooperation and power sharing of power between the races, it was also extended to the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Let us not forget that the first “bridge” built between the states in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak over the South China Sea was the political bridge of Barisan Nasional , 11 years after the establishment of Malaysia. It was later reinforced by the presence of UMNO in Sabah, the Land Below the Wind, in 1991.

When the New Economic Policy ended in 1990, Tun Dr. Mahathir, the Prime Minister at that time, defined a policy directing the country towards becoming a developed nation by 2020. Through a working paper entitled “Malaysia: Moving Forward”, which was delivered at the launch of the Malaysian Business Council on Feb 28, 1991, he envisioned that Malaysia will become a developed country within three decades.

At that time, the aspiration was such that by 2020, Malaysia will enjoy the same living standards as the United States.  The per capita income of the United States at that time was about US$20,000. Although we do know that there were certain quarters who claimed that the goal was mere  a fantasy like that of the proverbial Mat Jenin, Tun Dr Mahathir’s argument was strong and neat. He had stated that during the NEP period, the average annual growth of the nation was 6.7 percent. If within a period of30 years to 2020 when growth could be increased to 7.0 percent, which was 0.3 percent more than the years between 1971 and 1990, then that aspiration was not impossible.

In addition to economic aspects, he also outlined nine more socio-political challenges before Vision 2020 could be realised.  The most important was strengthening national unity to forge Bangsa Malaysia. The experience from the New Economic Policy showed that equitable distribution of wealth can only happen amidst a robust economy.

What is very clear here, in order to ensure national unity, two mechanisms, political and socio-economic, should converge. This means that national unity would not be effective without social justice and social justice cannot be created without political stability and economic prosperity based on national unity. In short, these three elements are complementary, interrelated and will mutually reinforce each other.

Brothers and Sisters,

Having been entrusted to lead the party and country about 18 months ago when Tun Abdullah handed over power in line with the UMNO tradition of harmonious continuity within its leadership,   I have decided not to reinvent the wheel but to take the examples of the wisdom and foresight of the past leadership in the party and country through a formula that has already been tried and tested over time.

As such, this gave birth to  the philosophy of 1Malaysia, a pragmatic continuation of the vision of our forefathers in the party and government. National unity is a dynamic thing. It should always fertilised and nurtured, if not, it will be in tatters. The Alliance was formed in line with the needs of the  time, but after the tragedy of May 13, 1969, saw to that model being revitalised through Barisan Nasional and the elements of social justice via the New Economic Policy.

The result was that the foundations which were laid down by the late Tunku  were continued by the late Tun Razak through Barisan Nasional and the New Economic Policy. The late Tun Hussein, who  is also known as the Father of Unity, was firm and sincere in undertaking his duties. Later  Tun Dr. Mahathir proceeded with the concept of Bangsa Malaysia. Tun Abdullah then followed suit with the building of human capital and strengthening the country’s National Mission.

Brothers and Sisters,

If national unity, prosperity and social justice are mutually binding and intertwined,  then, in addition to 1Malaysia, we have introduced the Government Transformation Plan, or GTP,  and 6 NKRAs and Economic Transformation Plan, or ETP, to further build the prosperity and well-being of the people.

As presented earlier before this, the ETP is a comprehensive plan, covering major guidelines of the New Economic Model and eight strategic initiatives. It also contains a clear direction to 12 NKEAs and precise mechanism of the 10th and 11th Malaysia Plans.

Again, in this respect again, 1Malaysia is also in line with Islamic values and the spirit reflected by Prophet Muhammad in nation-building as well as the early foundations of the Islamic civilisation in Medina. Communities of various races and religions in Medina then lived in harmony from rules based on a Constitution which prioritised and defended the religions of all parties ad provided justice for all. The Constitution also protected minorities and accorded the freedom of religious practice to those non-Muslims as well.

Brothers and Sisters,

Clearly, this is not a new dream. This is the eternal aspiration of the country in the past and in time to come. It ws the idea of the late Dato ‘Onn, the ideals of late Tunku Abdul Rahman, the hopes of my late father, Tun Hussein’s desires, aspirations of Tun Dr. Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah Badawi’s goals. Certainly, it has become my vision, together with Tan Sri Muhyiddin and colleagues in UMNO, Barisan Nasional and the government.

I am confident and believe that it is a noble intention backed by you, ladies and gentlemen who are in this hall and outside this hall, and by all the people of this beloved country. In short, by all, wherever you are, we are 1Malaysia.

On top of all this, if we are visualise, in the Malay culture, leadership comes in many forms.  Starting from the leadership in the households, villages right up to the leadership of the community and nation. Due to their important influence in life, leaders are entrusted with the responsibility of leading the people as reflected in the phrase “the custom holds on to the trust of the people, never  backstab, the custom holds on to the belief of power, never destroy, and never forget your  boundaries”.

At this juncture, although there  may ups and downs, bitterness, criticisms heaped upon UMNO by the Opposition,  history has clearly shown that we have lasted more than 60 years of service, assistance and devotion towards the development of the Malays as well as nation. In addition, the ability and integrity of UMNO was not only acknowledged in this region but the world over.

Indeed, for over decades, what was said by us was not an empty promise. This can be seen from the records in the country, this party has transformed disunity into unity, from colonial mindsets of the past to independent thoughts, from a lack of self-confidence at one time to one of self-confidence which we are all proud of, and from one of despair to full of hopes for the future.

Let us not forget, this party has been tasked to change Malays who were not politically conscious before World War II to a nation that was able to gain independence through negotiations with one of the world’s major powers, Britain.

In addition, the neatly-arranged records in the country will also show that UMNO had raised the consciousness of nationalism, patriotism and political democracy.  In the big picture, it has been proven that the UMNO leadership had succeeded in leading the speedy transformation of Malaysia that we enjoy today.

In listing the stories of our achievements, we would like to ask, who had successfully led in this great struggle? What was the value system? The question here is that we do not want to be pondering over our past successes , but examine what had been the strengths and factors that had been fundamental to the sturdiness of our organisation.

In this context, it would be appropriate if I recited some poetry by National Laureate, the late Usman Awang, and some gurindam by another literary giant, Effendy Tenas, who wrote about the Malays.

Melayu itu kaya falsafahnya
Melayu itu orang yang bijaksana
Akal budi bersulamkan daya

Jawa itu Melayu
Bugis itu Melayu
Banjar juga disebut Melayu
Minangkabau memang Melayu
Keturunan Acheh adalah Melayu,

Jakun dan Sakai asli Melayu
Arab dan Pakistani semua Melayu
Mamak dan Malbari serap ke Melayu
Malah muallaf bertakrif Melayu

Kadazan, Bajau, India Muslim dan Siam
Melanau, Bidayuh dan berpuluh suku kaum
Kita bersama dalam serumpun

Watak Melayu menolak permusuhan
Setia dan sabar tiada sempadan

Maruah dan agama dihina jangan
Hebat amuknya tak kenal lawan

Menjadi pemimpin sifatnya agung
Syarak dipakai adat dijunjung

Hidupnya mengabdi kepada rakyat
Taat setia membela umat

Dijadikan induk kuat berdiri
Umat sentosa bertuahlah negeri.

Based on the lines that I just recited,  it just go to show that in the psychology,  behaviour  or the character of the Malay, the fundamentals are reflected in the seeds of moral leadership. If explored further, the Malays accord a high placing on the refined attitude of leaders and their leadership in the community.

Evidently, the Malays have stood the test of time. Their character has also enabled Malays to be accepted as leaders in a multicultural society. Their moral leadership has also provided for that they take on the leadership of the nation.

What is more elegant is that the  features of Malay leadership that I am talking about, had been further refined with the arrival of Islam that had called for and supported  the wasatiyah approach, which is a principle of the practice of  life by individuals and society in a balanced and comprehensive manner in all fields, especially in matters concerning unity and nationhood.

Since then, and from time to time, the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah had been  embroidered and woven neatly in the daily life of the Malays. Since then up to now, the values of the Malays, is filled with the principle of wasatiyah or the middle way. According to scholars, those who practice the wasatiyah way are those who are not only just noted for their ability to work hard for their well-being in the world and the hereafter.

Brothers and sisters,

Subsequently, the most important thing to remember is that, in determining the survival a nation, we need the right leadership style and honest understanding of its concept, especially in a unique country like Malaysia.

In this regard, we should be grateful that Malaysia, a multi-racial and multi-religious country, remains stable and free of any major conflict. Hence, every person should accept that racial diversity is a blessing and a gift from Allah.

Indeed, pluralism is a source of strength for us. This is how the world has always been and how it will remain forever. What is important is how do we leverage this asset for the country’s success.

In this context, all parties need to open their hearts. Although we practice affirmative action to ensure social justice, the success of an individual is limited only by his or her creativity, innovation and willingness to work hard and take risks.

For example, non-Bumiputeras, after 39 years of affirmative action, are still the race with the greatest wealth. We are aware that certain quarters claim that affirmative action had caused hardship. However, empirical evidence showed otherwise. In fact, the attitude of beneficiaries, methods of implementation and the landscape of action were source of the problems.

Brothers and sisters,

Furthermore, when certain quarters began to question the position of the Malays as a race that is protected by certain rights, it caused anger and discontent among us who are noted for our accommodating nature. Like an amber in a padi husk, this feeling is starting to burn and may spread to damage the harmonious race relations that have long been forged.

Unfortunately, after 53 years of Independence, today the people of Malaysia face a relentless onslaught on the foundations of sound relations among communities that have existed for so long. If the national polemics is not handled well, we fear it might threaten national unity.

For this reason, brothers an sisters, we must remain vigilant, we must continue to remind ourselves that the success of our beloved land has been made possible by the contributions, ideas and sacrifices of the various races. It was not the deeds or ideas exclusively of one race but the collective efforts of all communities from which we reap the harvest.

What will become a problem is when history is ignored and irresponsible parties try to reinterpret it to suit their narrow interests or agendas.

Opportunist leaders, fishing in muddy waters, are really foxes disguised as chicken, playing with fire to manipulate the situation, are to be rejected in leadership. They are not qualified to be called leaders.

Brothers and sisters

Be mindful of the dream merchants who tell fairy tales, becoming swashbucklers who twist falsehood, weave hatred, trade defamatory, blend honey with poison, and ridicule sacrifices and without any shame invite us to enjoy the low-hanging khuldi fruits to the extend of gambling everything.

Brothers and sisters,

Taking off from there, the Malays are particularly hurt that the pledge sealed at the advent of Independence is recant. Whereas it was on the basis of this pact that we were willing to make major sacrifices, sharing Malaya with other races, to achieve Independence.

At the same time, the acceptance of citizenship that is based on the principle of jus soli or right over the birthplace of jus sanguinis principle, that is the blood right, has transformed overnight the Malay socio-political landscape forever.

That is why, we can no longer be imprisoned in the story of the past without looking to the future. The basic question here, as the principle of integrity, any contract made under the rule of law, if not respected, will mean no certainty at all even for basic things that have been agreed together. The business analogy  is that the parties that break promises will no longer be trusted.

Furthermore, if a pledge of loyalty is discarded as one pleases when it no longer suits certain tastes or interests, mutual trust and respect will be destroyed and we will be infected with suspicion when we going one another’s motive and sincerity. It is endemic and dangerous, I repeat, very dangerous to a country with diverse races, religions and cultures such as Malaysia as it can destroy all that was built over the past 50 years.

One thing is for sure, the countervalance to all this is not only from the Malays but other races as well. It is manifested through moral consensus, that is, in exchange for citizenship, the non-Malays were willing to accept the principle of special privileges as provided under the provisions of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Then Malaysian citizenship was in principle no longer based on equal rights and opportunities but has been adapted to the existing reality for the sake of long-term national goals and interests.

Brothers and sisters,

This is actually the core of the contract sealed by consensus by our founding fathers who represented the various races at the start of Independence. It was later enacted as a national social contract, sealed in the Federal Constitution which is the supreme law of the country. Like it or not, we must respect the noble consensus since that is the key to national survival.

Now, as the present generation of leadership, we have been entrusted to cope with the demands of this monumental era, as the first generation of leaders who are faced with the challenge of building a foundation of diversity. Therefore, it is highly irresponsible if we chose the way of folding our arms and sitting passively without doing anything. Worse still, if we leave these responsibilities to future generations of leaders to shoulder.

As such, we must build a new runway in the Malaysian race relations by taking into account two important principles. First, it should be based on a shared future, and secondly, it must take into account the realities of history without losing sight of today’s and the future’s  potential.

Brothers and sisters

Indeed, people do not live in an utopia. Mankind cannot escape from reality and the environment. Malaysia is a country based on the principles enshrined in the constitution and the rule of law as the national ideology as espoused in the five principles of Rukun Negara.

As we know, the position of the Malays and the Bumiputera and other races in terms of politics has been clearly enshrined in the Constitution. It is neatly locked in Article 3 on citizenship, Article 38 on the Conference of Rulers, Article 152 on the national language and Article 153 which include, among others, reserve quota services and permit for the Malays.

Next, ladies and gentlemen, we must understand and acknowledge that the amendment to these articles cannot be done without the consent of the Conference of Rulers in accordance with Article 159 of the Federal Constitution. It is strengthened by Article 10 Clause 4 which empowers the Parliament to enact a law prohibiting questioning any matter, rights, status, position, privileges, sovereignty or sovereign rights protected by the provisions of Clause 3, Article 152, Article 153, and Article 181.

In relation to this matter, let us be informed of how the great polemics today evolved, either on nationality after Independence or special rights of the Malays. In fact, the debate has become academic. This is because in terms of legislation, its provisions have already been expressed and soldered.

Even a two-thirds majority in Parliament would not enable any party to change anything without the consent of the Conference of Rulers, which comprises nine Malay rulers. In other words, battle cries will be in vain as capitalising on the provisions of citizenship to threaten other races will not work as these are concrete and cannot be repealed even if an emergency is declared.

Overall, like it or not, there are very strong reasons why these things are not allowed to be amended, except with the consent of the Conference of Rulers. The wisdom is that such provisions are placed outside the forum of discussions. If it is open for debate, we fear that it would spark unrest and incite primordial instinct or natural instincts existing among ethnic groups.

Above all, Malaysians must realise that history has shown no matter how advanced an economy, how revolutionised a civilisation, how clever humans are and how high the level of tolerance, if primal instincts are not managed properly, we may as a consequence we might witness extreme cruelty fuelled by the darker human traits.

What I say is not surprising. In the 20th century, we have been shown cases of punishment without trial in the United States, the holocaust tragedy in Europe, the slaughter of Palestinians in West Asia and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda. So, one can imagine the result, if each generation of Malaysians take a stand to question the fairness of the national social contract that had been previously sealed by consensus by our predecessors.

The consequences will be much faster, especially in the borderless world with sophisticated information and communication technology system that is constantly evolving. The crux of the matter, brothers and sisters, why do want to change what has worked so well. Let us not allow what is good to be broken, and what is joined to be cut.

Brothers and sisters,

Beyond this situation, as Malays who are the majority, we have a leadership responsibility.  The moral responsibility of leadership that extends beyond the interests of our own community. This responsibility has naturally been bestowed on us Malays as the majority forming 67 percent of the population. As I said at the outset of my speech, this provision is validated by historical factors and the attitude of the race itself.

Thus is the fate of a race chosen to lead a plural society. The continuous trust of the other races should encourage the Malays to constantly improve themselves and become the leading facilitator among tghe races.

In other words, amid modernism and accelerated globalisation, the question of rights, dignity and origins will not have any meaning if the community is backward and left behind. Consequently the courtesy shown to us and hope placed upon us by others will fade away. As such, we now have to get up and run quickly to justify our role as Malays with prudence and professionalism.

Brothers and sisters,

Looking ahead, since the General Assembly in March 2009, various plans and careful planning and strategies had been devised. Therefore, we can no longer procrastinate. To overcome all obstacles, our focus now is on the party’s modus operandi. Umno’s modus operandi as a political party must change. Even so, Umno must remain steadfast to its original purpose as a Malay mass party expounding the aspirations of the community.

Admiral Hang Tuah said the Malays will not disappear from the face of the earth. The Malays, especially those from this region, has traversed centuries of ebb and flow. Let it be known, the forthcoming 2011 is not an ordinary year. It marks 500 years since the fall of the Melaka empire. Here, we should learn why a great empire in the Malay Archipelago, once a trading transit point between two continents, had fallen to the Portuguese.

Ironically, many quarters only focus on the collapse of the Malay empire due to internal betrayal. True, this was part of the reason. But no less important was the great difference in military might and the weapons used.

What I mean is that the Portuguese had used modern weapons of the time with rifles and artillery while the defenders of Melaka at that time were still using weapons of a bygone era. Although daggers, archers and spears were a symbol of heroism they could not match guns and cannons. That was the convention, the way the world turned.

Brothers and sisters,

Therefore, the Malays of the third millennium, the 21st century Malays, must be ready for the era. Rather than being obsessed with rights, the Malay of the 21st century must prepare themselves to take advantage of existing rights. What is the use of quotas, reserves and permits if everything is being wasted. What good is a chance if it is forfeited for short-term profits.

Hence, the Malays of the 21st century must work hard to build capacity and capability, instead of just thumping their chests exerting that they should be successful as it is their right to succeed. Like it or not, the Malays must face the reality of this century to achieve success.

We should be glocal Malays. Brothers and sisters, I want to ask, what is lacking of the Malays? The Malays should be able to compete with the best. The Malays should be able to fight with the most powerful. The Malays must be the greatest on the international stage.

Therefore, as President of Umno I do not want to hear any excuse that the Malays are still weak because of nearly five centuries of colonialism. I, as President of Umno, and my colleagues in the party leadership, are not willing to see the Malays become a nation which goes begging, we do not want to see the Malays become a complacent race. As the maxim goes “small gains will not become a fortune”.

Let me stress, I would like to remind all that the fight today is a battle of the minds and skills. Whoever is wiser, whoever controls information influences the situation. Therefore, do not take the easy way out by becoming dogmatic and satisfied with the form rather than the content.

Brothers and sisters,

To all parties: Is it not what had been achieved for 53 years since Independence the result of efforts and leadership of the Malays? Thus, we become suffocated and restless these days when we hear discordant voices that try to belittle the achievements of the Malays. Very true, it is very easy to make insulting remarks as the tongue is boneless. They like to allege that the public service is a pit of inefficiency.

On the contrary, if the public service is not competent, we would have become a failed nation a long time ago, we will not have developed from a low-income agricultural nation to a modern industrial nation.

We have proven all these years that we have succeeded without the need to have foreign military bases on our good earth to give us a security umbrella. We also succeeded indisputably as an independent and sovereign nation. We have also succeeded with the various races in building this sacred land.

Certainly, we have weaknesses, but we have still been able at all times to overcome challenges through our own efforts and in our own way without relying on other countries.

In facing all this, Umno will deliver on the trust it has been entrusted upon to uphold the interests of the Malays, religion and country. We will not do so merely by poetic words but with various concrete initiatives, programmes and policies.

Umno will never allow the Malay race to be helpless and strangers in their own country. We are committed to doing not only what is best, but what is right for the Malay diaspora. We cannot afford to sink amidst our awe of the past. In fact, we not only have to deal with external challenges but also challenges from some of our own people who appear willing to gamble everything away for the sake of power.

As a lesson from all this, Umno members should not lose hope or be filled with despair. Islam strictly prohibits us to give up hope. As members and people of Umno, we should not allow ourselves to be dispirited and wallow in  of defeat nor allow Umno to be easily destroyed.

Hence, in building for the future and in our quest to strengthen the race, we need to go through three phases of recovery.  The first and most important phase is to acknowledge the weaknesses and problems faced by us. The second phase is to reflect upon them and find effective remedies to overcome the deficiencies. The third phase is to start working on the recovery plans. What is important is that all three phases must be done properly with attention to detail. Otherwise, the changes and reforms will not succeed.

Umno is not an ordinary party. Umno was born from the conscience and aspirations of the Malays. Tracing its journey, Umno has gone through many trials and tribulations. In 1951, the President and founder of Umno left the party. Subsequently, PAS was established by a presidential candidate who lost to the late Tunku in an election to replace Datuk ‘Onn as the new leader of Umno.

By 1969, Umno and its partners lost its grip on a two-thirds majority for the first time in Parliament, and at the same time we were confronted with racial riots, and democracy had to be suspended. The world at that time appeared to bid farewell to Umno. 1987 also saw the splitting of the party and racial tension again hit the nation.

A year later in 1988, we felt very saddened as if we were hit by a bolt of lightning, swooped upon by an eagle, or that we had lost our shelter, when we were forced to receive the bad news that Umno, a party which had done a lot of good in the past, was declared illegal.

In the late 1990s, not only did we face the international financial crisis, we also saw a political downswing when many Malays no longer supported the party. We were then hit by the frightening political tsunami of 2008.

Alhamdulillah, despite whatever obstacles or tests, I believe that for those who plod on, persevere and have trust in Allah the Almighty, victory would definitely come.  In every crisis, Umno has managed to bounce back and stabilise the situation where all odds seemed stacked against us.

All this is because the members and leaders of Umno continued to have their feet planted firmly on the ground. All this is possible because the members and leaders of Umno never for a moment lost confidence in the true struggles of the party or lost hope in its leaders. The basic fact was that the noble principles of Umno had not only benefited the Malays but all Malaysians as well.

In fact, we are the first political party that had dared to expand the voting block – increasing the number of electors to 140,000.Even before we amended the constitution, we had been known for our highly competitive elections.

These are our noble aims. These are the transparent and noble steps of Umno. These are the heights of Malay aspirations.

Therefore, can we believe that the prosperity of Malaysia can be sustained if the opposition parties, which are in disarray, were to hold the  reins of power? Can the people of Malaysia place their trust on people who think of nothing else but to seek power in the seat of government?  Can we leave Malaysia to the traitors of our people and of this beloved nation?

Indeed, to our members, we place our party’s destiny in your hands. Under your watch, we will endeavour to protect Umno. On your shoulders will the legacy of the United Malays National Organisation live on.

What’s a drizzle when we can brave a downpour What’s a storm when we dare face a typhoon What’s a flood, when we fear not a tidal wave What’s an eclipse when we can light up pitch darkness

Therefore, let me remind you all, let us not be hit by the poisonous darts from the theatricals of the Opposition which can only bring about failure. Stay steadfast to the party. Be loyal to the banners of Barisan Nasional. Even if we are broken or divorced from the life of the body, brothers and sisters, we must defend Putrajaya at all costs!

For the sake of Islam,  for the sake of the Malays and for the sake of Malaysia. Let us come together to strengthen the race and lead in prosperity. Intoning Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, I hereby declare open the 61st  Umno General Assembly 2010. — Bernama