Monday, March 23, 2009

The Umno General Assembly

Umno has an obligation to all

All eyes are on the coming United Malays National Organisation ( Umno) General Assembly this week. Malaysians from all walks of life regardless of ethnicity are watching closely what transpires at this assembly as the deliberations by the 2700 or so delegates and the resolutions adopted by them to some extent affects every Malaysian in some way or another.

Umno has played such a dominant role in the country’s 52-year rule under the Alliance and then the Barisan Nasional(BN)coalitions. Together with its major non-Malay partners, the MCA and MIC and other minor partners, it can be said that it had ruled the multiracial and multi religious nation reasonably well to elevate the status of the country to where it is today. However like all political parties, in uninterrupted power for so long, of late signs of arrogance, apathy and corruption began to set in which were glaring in the eyes of the voters in the last general election.

The results of that general election showed that the support of the people for the coalition has declined drastically and the BN had to undergo an in-depth soul-searching for the reasons for their loss. It was the first time in over 50 years the Unmo-BN realized that it could lose its power to rule the nation to an opposition. It was the first time it dawned on them that they can be rendered irrelevant by the next elections in 2013. It called for drastic change but unfortunately Malaysians have yet to see any tangibles that those changes are coming.

The Umno General Assembly this year is of special significance as it marks the transition of power of its president and thereby the Prime Minister.On the eve of the assembly it is reassuring to note that the incoming president Datuk Seri Najib Razak realises the challenges he is facing and once again promised to bring change and reforms that are badly needed.

Najib is taking over the premiership at a very difficult time when the nation is ethnically divided, corruption rampant, a stronger and more hostile opposition to deal with and not to forget the looming economic crisis. Most importantly it is a time of increased maturity and wisdom of the populace that demands greater accountability and transparency. Will Najib be able to turn these unfavorable factors to his advantage remains to be seen in the coming weeks and months?

To show that he is sincere and serious in wanting change, Najib can start by ensuring that the Umno General Assembly this time conducts itself in a manner that will be earn the respect of Malaysians of all races. It should depart from the racial attitudes of past Assemblies and debate the issues facing the nation and the people fairly and rationally without hurting the sensitivities of any particular group. This invariably is the only way for Umno to regain the lost support and it must not miss this opportunity.

Umno may be an organization for the Malays but, being the backbone of the multiracial BN, it cannot confine itself to championing the rights Malays alone but has the moral obligation to cater for the welfare of all Malaysians, working hand in hand with its other partners in BN.The people, not just the Malays but the non-Malays as well, look up to Umno for their well being and opportunities and it is imperative that the latter does not let them down.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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