Umno not a racist party – Muhyiddin

(Bernama) — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Malays and non-Malays can still depend on Umno as the party that was the backbone of the government and country.

Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, said allegations that he and Umno were becoming racists had no basis whatsoever.

He said he might be a bit prejudiced because he was one of Umno leaders but opposition leaders were also struggling with their own political disputes and could not defend their own policies.

“Can the Malays depend on PKR, can they expect something from Anwar Ibrahim? Can they defend the principles in the Constitution, Malay rights, Malay rulers, Malay language, Malay economy?

“I say no because it was proven on many occasions that they could not even meet the demands of the Malays, let alone to meet the demands of other races,” he told a special news conference in conjunction with the Umno General Assembly 2011, here Friday.

He said PAS, on the other hand, was in disarray and strayed from its basic struggle.

“They can’t even resolve the dirty water issue in Kelantan. They compromise their own principles to team up with the DAP. Can the Malays count on DAP?, he asked cynically.

He said Umno did not address only the interests of the Malays but took into account the Malay agenda that still needed a long time to be resolved.

“So when we talk about Malay interest it does not mean we are racist because the largest group in the Malaysian society whether you like it or not is still Malays, Bumiputeras and Muslims,” he said.

Muhyiddin also admitted that Umno had its own weaknesses but its proven track record could still be used in making comparison with other parties.

“To put the hopes of the Malays on parties other than Umno is useless. So, Umno members should realise that the Malays still need a party, but there are some weaknesses that must be improved,” he said.

On allegations that the 1Malaysia concept had restricted Malay rights, the deputy prime minister said it was actually in line with current demands.

“So for me, the Malays should not feel neglected. That may be the perception as we want to address the post-2008 political tsunami. We must take into account any changes in mindset of not only the Malays but also Malaysian society.

“Umno has to make adjustments so that we are not seen as backward or not in line with current developments. But the basic struggle to defend the Malays has never been relegated to the second place,” said Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister.

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin also admitted that Umno Youth and Puteri Umno had yet to capture the full attention of the younger generation.

Hence, he said the two wings of Umno should give extra focus to the efforts to improve the roles played by the younger generation in the party.

“I can’t deny that they have carried out many programmes and activities but the question is whether those programmes and activities have captured the attention and won the hearts of the young people,” he said.

Muhyiddin said he also hoped that the younger generation in Umno would take advantage of this year’s assembly to raise issues concerning the aspirations of the new generation or “Generation Y’ as they made up 40 per cent of the registered voters in the country.

“So, they have to debate on the interests and the aspirations of this new generation, especially in terms of transparency, accountability, and whether what is being done will benefit them. All these aspects must be manifested in their debates at the assembly,” he said.

Muhyiddin said he believed that Umno had groomed a new breed of leaders who are ready to take over the party leadership, but all doors must be kept open for professional groups to join the party.

However, he said the public was now looking for leadership factors and credibility of a person, regardles of his party.

“The public want to see who represents them. So, the candidate must not only be winnable, but must also be acceptable, credible, outstanding and brilliant. These are the quality that the Malays are looking for and we can’t simply ignore it,” he said.

The Umno General Assembly 2001 will begin on Tuesday until Dec 3.