KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 – Datuk Seri Najib Razak says the the government must use merit as a basis of extending aid to Malays under affirmative action policies and not play favourites to create “Umnoputras.”
Malaysia’s next prime minister also pointed out that the government’s New Economic Policy (NEP) type programmes were not just meant to help under-privileged Malays but poor non-Malays as well.
Speaking to Utusan Malaysia on the eve of Umno polls this week, Najib also called for structural reforms in the ruling party because “we are not politically invincible.”
Najib, who will assume the party presidency this week, appeared to be offering up a measured and balanced message targetting a cross-section of Malaysians in an extensive interview published in Utusan’s Sunday edition Mingguan Malaysia.
In the interview, he also spoke of the need for Umno delegates to choose the “right candidates” in the party elections, in an obvious reference to the fallout from the disciplinary committee’s decision to bar Datuk Ali Rustam from contesting the deputy presidency.
“I hope the delegates vote with an enlightened heart. Vote for those with abilities and who are authoritative.
“The party leadership team must be prepared to take on new challenges, be prepared for reform and to do what it takes, instead of just doing things which are business as usal,” he said.
The remarks come amid intensified efforts to ensure Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is voted as deputy president ahead of Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.
Since Ali, the original frontrunner was shut out from contesting after being found guilty of vote-buying, many of the Malacca chief minister’s supporters are said to be gravitating towards Muhammad.
But Muhammad is also seen as another tainted leader, and there is widespread and open concern that if the former Selangor MB who was once caught trying to leave Australia with millions in cash wins, the party’s image would suffer as a result.
“But in the end the decisions are made by the delegates. It does not mean that if we mention someone’s name they will follow. We can only plead with them,” said Najib.
Najib was also asked if he thought Umno could go the way of Taiwan’s Kuomintang, Japan’s LDP and India’s Congress Party, which all lost power after many years before bouncing back.
“We have enough pain from losing five states. It should have given us the awareness to be remorseful. There is no guarantee that Umno which has been so dominant for more than 50 years can continue to do so.”
He acknowledged that Umno is seen as a corrupt party and the issue had to be addressed through structural reforms including the “method of election.”
Addressing the issue of the NEP, he said the situation now was different from when the policy was introduced in 1971.
“We cannot forget that in defining who the poor are there are other races too (besides the Malays),” he said.
“This means when we talk about championing the poor we must show our attention towards all ethnic groups.”
Source : The Malaysian Insider