Umno assembly sticks to Malay agenda over 1 Malaysia

By The Malaysian Insider

Umno delegates have left no doubt they saw the Malay agenda as a better tool to recapture Malay votes over party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia policy at the end of the party’s annual assembly yesterday.

Umno and its Barisan Nasional (BN) allies only won two million out of the five million Malay votes in Election 2008 but a succession of delegates focussed on the need for more incentives to attract the community’s support — now split among Umno, PAS and PKR.

Najib agreed with them, saying BN component parties had agreed that they will no longer question “sensitive issues” which were enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“They have given their agreement that matters pertaining to the constitution should no longer be questioned by anyone at all because I have explained them in detail,” the prime minister told reporters at the end of the four-day assembly here.

Asked whether all BN member parties have reached a consensus on this, Najib replied, “I would imagine they should agree because this is what I have said and as chairman of BN, this is the spirit of BN, and it is quite academic for us to question the provisions of the constitution.”

In his policy speech on Thursday, Najib, said the position of the Malays and Bumiputera as well as the interests of the other races in terms of politics, had been enshrined as a national social contract in the Federal Constitution, and everyone must now respect this consensus for the sake of the country’s continuity and survival.

The Umno president also told his party colleagues that they had to publicise their success in raising wages for the pre-dominantly Malay civil service, who number 1.2 million, and key officials such as village headmen.

He responded to the delegates’ demand for more focus on the Malay agenda by revealing that the government has formed a supreme council committee on the Bumiputera agenda — chaired by him — to protect the interest of the community.

“In fact the supreme council on Bumiputera agenda has been formed. The first meeting was held last month,” Najib told the assembly.

“I am the chairman with [the] deputy prime minister as the deputy and selected ministers as members of the council,” he said adding that the three Umno vice-presidents Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Datuk Shafie Apdal are also members of the council.

The prime minister also promised his administration would not roll back affirmative action policies to protect Malay interests.

In winding up his party’s annual meeting, the Umno president attacked political rivals for twisting his words in arguing against his party’s relevance to protect constitutional provisions on Malay rights.

“The other side is very good at twisting my words. He said if the rights are guaranteed, then there is no need for Umno to remain in power,” said Najib in his winding up speech at the general assembly here.

“This is definitely not true, because political power must remain in Umno’s hands for us to translate the principles and the spirit of the constitutional position,” he told the 2,500 party delegates.

He assured the party that he would not backtrack from the principles of the pro-Bumiputera New Economic Policy (NEP) introduced during the administration of his father, Tun Razak Hussein, the second prime minister.

“Who started the NEP? As the son, I will ensure the spirit and principle of the struggle continues,” said Najib.

His reassurance came as delegates expressed worry that his New Economic Model (NEM) and economic liberalisation would come at the expense of Malay economic power and its target for 30 per cent equity that failed to materialise at the end of the NEP in 1990. Earlier, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin had told the delegates this year that the 30 per cent equity target would be achievable by 2020.