KUALA LUMPUR: The time has come for Umno leaders to look beyond the party and members if it wants to stay in power, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Umno deputy president admitted that there was a tendency for party leaders, particularly at divisional level, to look at Umno within the context of just Umno alone.
“I have always said that holding a post in Umno, say as a divisional head, it not the end of it all.
“It’s just the beginning of your responsibility and your responsibility is not only to the members of Umno but also to the people at large,”Â he told reporters on Thursday after the soft launch of Malaysia Savings Sale 2008.
The Deputy Prime Minister said Umno leaders should realise that if they want to stay in power, they have to appeal to the wider audience.
“This includes all sections of people incuding those who are not Umno members and non-malays as well,”Â he added.
He was commenting on former deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam’s remarks that Umno had ‘penyakit tua’ (grown old) and had become too introverted and needed to change if it wanted support from the people.
Najib said in terms of party leadership, many members feel there was a need for generational change in Umno at all levels.
“For me, this is a natural process in the party,”Â he added.
On views that the Umno elections were too far away and, therefore, might give rise to even more money politics, he said, the party had given its full mandate to the disciplinary board to act on this.
He said the party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had even met the board chairman Tengku Rithauddeen to ask that it act sternly to curb the menace.
He said the party election had been fixed for March and as of now there was no change.
On the Umno president saying in Sabah recently that there was nothing wrong in Datuk Seri Ali Rustam Mohd Ali going for the deputy post as an indication that Pak Lah wanted the Malacca Chief Minister as his (Najib’s) deputy, Najib said: “it’s not wrong.”Â
“Any member can contest for any post in the party with the condition that he fulfils the requirement in the party constitution,” he said.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is the favourite in the Umno deputy president post and has qualified to contest the seat.
But following Abdullah’s remarks in Sabah, there was a surge in the nominations for Ali Rustam who is also vying for the post.
He (Ali Rustam) has not reached 39 nominations yet, the number needed to be eligible to contest the post.
On nominations from the Pekan division which has yet to have its meeting, Najib who is the division chief was non-committal. “Wait first. I haven’t thought about it,”Â he said.
Source : The Star