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Published: Wednesday October 14, 2009 MYT 1:52:00 PMUpdated: Wednesday October 14, 2009 MYT 8:43:32 PM
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin urged the Malays to get rid of their “siege mentality” and take on the mantle of true leadership, one which includes all the races of Malaysia while not neglecting the plight of the Malays.
In his maiden speech (see below for full text) as Umno Youth chief at the movement’s annual general assembly on Wednesday, Khairy asked the Malays to make the leap to a political struggle based on “civilisational confidence” and help the Prime Minister achieve his 1Malaysia vision.
“Civilisational confidence means as Malays, we are confident of our own ability to move forward, setting out a vision for success without being afraid of our own shadow. This is our generation’s challenge.
“I speak of a generational challenge because for too long, Malays and Umno have been caught in a mindset that is negative and overly defensive. We feel as though we are constantly under siege, and all our efforts appear to be channelled towards protecting the Malay special position.
“I urge Malays, beginning with the youth, to get out of this siege mentality,” he said.
Khairy noted that Article 153 of the Federal Constitution guarantees the special position of Malays and bumiputras, and stripping it would require the approval of two-thirds of Parliament as well consent from the Council of Rulers.
“This should serve as a reminder that realistically, our special position as stipulated in the Constitution cannot possibly be changed.
“But consider this: Article 153 in itself does not guarantee progress and development for the Malays. Constitutional provisions do not make us ‘special’ or extraordinary, it is the performance and achievements of Malays that will determine if we are,” he said.
Khairy said that while the rights and privileges of the Malays are important, more important is how the Malays are empowered in order to truly succeed.
“Umno and the Malays as a whole must move away from a defensive setting, where we assume that our rights are under threat, to a people equipped with our own civilisational confidence – carving a vision of progress for the future.
“This is the new Malay dilemma, the generational question of our time which must be addressed: Are we going to defend symbols for their sake, or are we bold and courageous enough to accept the reality that there needs to be a change in both vision and mechanisms to see Malays forge ahead? I believe the answer lies in the latter,” he said.
Khairy noted that the concept of 1Malaysia as introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, also the president of Umno, has succeeded in capturing the imagination of young people across the country with its message that all communities have contributed to the nation.
“1Malaysia is most appropriate in a time when the populace is hungry for a political vision based on the idea of unity and performance for the people.
“Guided by the spirit of 1Malaysia, Umno Youth has to abide by a new mission that will be the foundation of our contemporary struggle.
“This is our new mission: To win the support of all Malaysians, and not just the Malays. In our words, agenda and strategy, Umno Youth must operate based on this new mission – giving hope to all Malaysian regardless of race, religion and background,” he said.
He said it was time for Umno, as the Barisan Nasional’s largest component party, to exhibit its leadership credentials – a leadership that is comprehensive, inclusive and national.
“This calls for courage because it requires us to shift away from our comfort zones of a communal party perspective to a more holistic political consciousness, which incorporates all.
“We are now at a crossroads of our cause, where we can choose to remain on the same path with the same style and methods. We can continue with the chest-thumping rhetoric, warning other races never to challenge this or that.
“This option is easy, and may promise a measure of popularity within the party, but we must ask ourselves, is this what Malaysians – Malays included – really want from Umno?
“For the 21st century Umno Youth, the courageous choice is to position ourselves as the pioneers of national unity through the spirit of 1Malaysia,” he said.
He said that Umno Youth’s message must be consistent with the Umno president’s national message, or Umno as a whole would be seen as as a party in disarray and full of hypocrites.
“In the era of technology, which can expose any duplicity, we will be judged as a party that does not practise what it preaches.
“This means the entire institutions of party and government must be on the same page, carrying a consistent message. In this new context, do we want the President to speak about a transformation – removing barriers between races and communities – whilst Umno Youth stubbornly refuses to change, and instead, continues to voice something different from the President?” he said.
Khairy noted that this not mean foregoing the Malay agenda.
“Umno and Umno Youth will always fight for the Malays – protecting the status of Islam, the Malay rulers and the Malay language. These are the core elements of Umno’s struggle that will never dissipate from our agenda.
‘However, we must pursue these things based on two principles: Justice and compassion, especially when dealing with other races. This compass will underline our national agenda that is grounded not in the narrow concept of Malay dominance, but on the concept of Malay leadership – magnanimous as well as both just and compassionate,” he said.
He said that Islam has always guided Umno, and that there should be nothing strange in Malays also fighting for Malaysians as a whole.
“In fact, when we respect the beliefs of others, they too will better respect ours. Allah SWT commands in Surah Al An’am, verse 108: And insult not those who worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge,” he said.
“Some may wonder if we should fight for other communities if they question our position as Malays.
“It is here that out leadership credentials will be tested. As the group of people given the responsibility and privilege to lead, Malays cannot simply follow the common beat – that would not be leadership.
“Instead, as leaders, Malays must rise above and go the extra mile. Only then will we have the ability to lead and be acknowledged as leaders who have wider recognition. This is another example of Malay leadership that I spoke of – a leadership that is just and compassionate, and accepted by all,” he said.
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KHAIRY JAMALUDDIN ABU BAKAR
UMNO YOUTH CHIEF
IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
UMNO YOUTH MALAYSIA 2009
PWTC, KUALA LUMPUR
OCT 14 2009
AT THE CROSSROADS OF OUR CAUSE
Yang Berbahagia Permanent Chairman
Yang Berbahagia Deputy Permanent Chairman
Yang Amat Berbahagia Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, former President of Umno
Representatives from the Supreme Council
Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir
Yang Berhormat Datuk Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob
Yang Berbahagia Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim
Yang Berhormat Datuk Razali Ibrahim, Deputy Leader of Umno Youth Malaysia
Executive Committee Members of Umno Youth Malaysia
Leaders of UmnoYouth at the state level
Delegates and Observers
Praise be to almighty Allah, for it is through His Grace and Will that Umno Youth is gathered here on this blessed morning to meet our obligations as stipulated in the party constitution.
In keeping with the spirit of Syawal, Umno Youth at both national and state levels wish Selamat Hari Raya and Maaf Zahir Batin to all, should anything have been said or done that caused hurt. Personally, too, I would like to seek forgiveness for whatever wrongdoings committed in the past. This moment here, represents the best opportunity for us to put all that unites us, above all that divides us, to begin anew and move forward in service of our nation and people.
At this auspicious occasion too, I have the great privilege of representing the entire Umno Youth movement in recording our utmost appreciation to our former party President, YAB Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and our movement’s former leader, YB Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, for all their contributions – not merely as leaders but as great-hearted individuals who passed on the torch to the new generation.
You have assuredly come today, with great commitment towards our party’s cause. It is only right that we, as mere mortals, reflect on the great responsibilities bestowed upon us as leaders and representatives in this hall. The reason for our presence, in body and spirit, is not to further individual interests. Rather we are here, grounded in our faith in Allah SWT, and the belief in the institutions of Umno and Umno Youth, that have borne the struggles for the advancement of our nation and people – overcoming countless challenges in steering through history.
Our commitment and steadfastness towards our cause is firmly entrenched in the fundamentals of our religion. Allah SWT reminds us about the value of steadfastness as well as the importance of holding on to unity and the teachings of our religion.
Allah SWT commands in Surah Al Maidah, verse 2:
“…help you one another in AlBirr and AtTaqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, for Allah is severe in punishment.”
It is with this consciousness that Umno Youth has congregated now for sixty years. Allah SWT did not unite us to do wrong, or to cause destruction to mankind. Instead, we are brought together through politics to serve Allah and do right by our Ummah and nation – performing a duty as commanded by Allah SWT in Surah Az Zariyat, ayat 56:
“And I created the jinns and men, only for them to worship Me”
The aim of our politics must be grounded on this divine consciousness. This is where we plant our deeds by striving for a noble purpose, through the dimensions and processes of politics. For here lies the meaning as well as the foundation of our noble cause in advocating and advancing our religion, people and nation.
Umno Youth is at a crossroads, a critical juncture of our cause. The choice we make will decide the party’s fate come the 13th General Elections – a battle for nothing less than the survival of Umno and the Barisan Nasional. The Opposition Alliance will attempt to deliver a deathblow to us after denying us a two-thirds majority in Parliament and emerging victorious in five states during the last General Elections. Umno and the Barisan have only three years to prove to the electorate that we remain the best option to lead and administrate the country – the best in fulfilling the aspirations of all Malaysians.
The current challenge requires wisdom for us to manage a political scene very different from what we have been accustomed to. We are faced with an electorate far more educated and exposed to the wider world. Voters now are more able to draw comparisons between Malaysia and other countries when it comes to both political culture and achievements. Many of these voters are young. This generation cannot be expected to support us based on the notion that they should be grateful to Umno and BN. Such an approach may have worked in the past, but today’s generation wants to know what Umno and BN can do, and not what it has done.
Most certainly, the political landscape has been transformed with freer information flows, either via conventional channels or new media. The country’s modernization – with sophisticated infrastructure such as broadband and mobile communication – has not only increased our country’s economic productivity but also had an effect on political maturity and consciousness.
Such is the current environment – freer, more open, young, educated and cosmopolitan. Political methods must also change to reflect this shift. The challenging climate, coupled with the limited time at hand, necessitates that we work and move relentlessly – our survival depends on the outcome of the 13th GE.
With that in mind, despite the fact that it has only been six months since Umno Youth’s leadership contests, we have already taken steps towards party rejuvenation and rehabilitation. In April, the Exco (executive council) lineup at the national level as well as state Umno Youth leadership participated in a retreat in Janda Baik in April, the result of which saw us emerge with a shared vision.
In line with the political challenges of today, Umno Youth has taken a comprehensive approach by arranging its Exco and Secretariat lineup to be more responsive to the younger generation, engaging all target segments. This approach cuts across geographical boundaries and social groupings – from young workers and professionals in urban and rural areas, to students of all ages.
These are all examples of how Umno Youth will operate to capture the hearts of young people. We cannot rely on hollow rhetoric, nor should we be akin to circus lions, roaring for no good reason. Granted, rhetoric may capture momentary media attention, but in order to win support, we must focus on issues that actually matter to the people – welfare issues such as calamities, natural disasters, poverty, public safety, health, education and housing.
The younger generation also hopes for thought leadership from Umno Youth – I am proud to say that in numerous debates, speeches, televised forums and other channels, Umno Youth has been at the frontline representing Umno and BN.
Early signs indicate that this approach is paying off, with acceptance towards Umno and BN amongst young people on the rise. Data from the results of recent by-elections show that – due much to your own efforts – in Manek Urai, support from young voters increased across all polling streams. In Bagan Pinang last week, that trend became even more pronounced when BN won the election with a larger majority than before. Who says young people are distancing themselves from our cause? This recent victory strengthens our resolve and spirits – Umno is still relevant and can remain the voice of the Malay struggle, especially for the younger generation.
That said, we cannot rest on our laurels, much less gloat. These initial achievements should act as a stimulant – with the right strategy and appropriate approach suited to the youths of today, the young voters that many say were almost impossible for BN to get on its side, can in fact be won over. Umno Youth has been tasked with this segment of the electorate, to turn their support to BN – for the younger generation, we serve as the contact point to our party.
As such, Umno Youth must perform a generational transformation in our approach. With that awareness, I introduced five pillars as a foundation to Umno Youth’s transformation. They are: Unity, Principled, Inclusive, Relevant and Proactive – underlining a new philosophy for our movement to achieve the goal of winning the support of the younger generation.
The pillar of “Unity” tells us that our strength lies in solidarity and collective efforts, grouping all members of Umno Youth under a common cause. “Principled”, on the other hand, refers to Umno Youth’s unyielding stance when dealing with the fundamental tenets of the party’s struggle: to protect the position of Islam, the Malay people, and the Malay language. “Inclusive” informs the nature of our activities, which must reach out beyond traditional party boundaries and cut across racial and religious lines.
“Relevant” denotes that our programs, mediums of outreach and communication, political language and information channels have to suit the target segments. The final pillar, “Proactive”, refers to the self-imposed standards of our work ethic, where in matters that concern the welfare of the people especially, all plans and actions must be carried out without having to wait for instructions. We must avoid chronic problems that can be exploited by the Opposition for its own political gains.
Based on these pillars, we will answer the call of 1Malaysia that prioritises performance for the people. With this, I propose a set of performance indicators to act as guidelines to all of Umno Youth’s work. Further, these indicators will assist in evaluating the accomplishments of both Umno Youth leaders and members.
The performance indicators that we must instill into our movement are as follows:
[i] Increasing the membership base of Umno, specifically increasing the number of young people joining the party.
[ii] Registering party members as voters in their respective constituencies.
[iii] Establishing relationships between Umno Youth and opinion shapers amongst the younger generation – members of the intelligentsia, young professionals, writers, religious figures and educators.
[iv] Winning the message war, especially in the cyber world which has become the platform for modern-day political communications.
[v] And the final indicator, that will best evaluate the performance of Umno Youth, is increasing votes of young people for BN, and winning the young voter polling streams in elections.
The set of performance indicators is in line with the agenda of party rejuvenation.
Another step taken to that end is the proposed amendments to the party constitution – as mooted by our President during the last General Assembly.
Umno Youth welcomes the efforts led by YB Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein as Chairman of the Constitution Amendment Committee, which has proposed a number of changes premised on the goal of empowering more Umno members to determine party leadership at the highest level. The amendments will simplify the process of joining the party and also minimise barriers for members to contest for party positions, at once making Umno more inclusive.
Umno Youth gives its full support to the proposed amendments which will be tabled tomorrow, at our Extraordinary General Assembly, in the hopes that they will be passed, especially because they would implicitly give recognition to young people in the party. I never fail to remind myself of the fact that it is in the party branches nationwide that the seeds of Umno’s struggle are sown in the hearts of young Malays. I am thus happy to report of an important proposal – that we must unanimously support – which recognises Leaders of Umno Youth at the branch level as automatic delegates to the divisional annual general meetings. Giving voice to Umno Youth grassroots will only serve to empower the movement nationally.
The constitutional amendments, if passed, would further bring changes to the party at large whereby elections for the highest posts in the party shall be carried out at divisional level. Hence, the power and privilege to elect leaders will no longer remain solely in the hands of 2,600 delegates to the General Assembly, but be extended to over 140,000 members nationwide.
These measures are timely and much welcomed by Umno Youth and we hope that they will act as a precursor to more substantial changes in the future, to better reflect Umno’s profile as a grassroots party that is truly open and democratic. It is our hope this new system will run smoothly so that one day, the right of suffrage will be in the hands of all members. One Member, One Vote. This is the true value of membership – the ability to elect party leaders should be seen as fundamental in party politics.
Another issue that will affect Umno Youth is in the matter of party membership. We have received numerous complaints about how painstakingly difficult and troublesome it is for young people to simply become a member of the party. With the passing of the constitutional amendments tomorrow, applications to join Umno can not only be received and signed off by Branch Heads, but also by Umno Youth Branch Leaders. We must not squander the privilege extended to us all. Let us double our efforts towards winning the hearts of young people. I reiterate the need for us to lend our full support to the proposed amendments that will be tabled tomorrow.
Whilst changes to the party constitution involve matters relating to young people who are members of Umno, as an inclusive party we must also strive to be the voice of the younger generation within and outside the party. This is what ”people-friendly” should mean in Umno Youth.
Among the issues faced by young people, especially the many who migrate to urban areas, are employment opportunities, housing and lack of civic participation. We cannot deny that many in the younger generation are given ample education opportunities by the Government, leading them to obtain degrees, diplomas or at the very least, certificates. However, when they fail to gain employment, we often hear allegations that seem to blame young people themselves – for a supposed lack in intelligence, poor communication skills and low confidence. It is incumbent upon us to seek ways to solve the problems they face.
Therefore, in the lead-up to the tabling of the 2010 Budget, Umno Youth would like to put forward a list of initiatives for the government to consider, specifically geared to the needs of young people as an important feature of the Budget. They are:
[i] Increased job opportunities, especially in strategic sectors like service, information technology and bio-technology;
[ii] Life-long training opportunities to increase skills, such as mastery of international languages and the latest technologies;
[iii] Special loan facilities for young entrepreneurs, especially at the start-up level to encourage participation in new sectors, which are high-tech, and possess value-adding qualities;
[iv] Support for volunteers and community welfare advancement efforts; and
[v] Increasing opportunities to ensure that graduates from the technical and vocational streams can be given ample employment.
Simultaneously, Umno Youth is also concerned with the unique issues faced by those who have only recently begun working and started families of their own, with numerous responsibilities to bear, including paying off study loans and looking after ageing parents. Umno Youth would thus like to propose the following measures to be considered by the Government:
[i] Setting up a fund for housing loans with the lowest interest rates for the first few years upon marriage so that newlyweds can afford to purchase a home;
[ii] Granting a special discount for national cars to first-time parents who have yet to own a car;
[iii] Providing RM200 for the firstborn of all families as an initial deposit to the National Education Savings Scheme Fund.
[iv] Offering vouchers to parents with infants to purchase necessities such as milk and diapers.
Umno Youth hopes that the Government will give the necessary attention to these proposals. We believe that with consistent service to the community, God-willing BN can capture the support of the younger generation – the asset and hope of our country’s future.
People are now faced with the choice between two political fronts: Barisan Nasional, which has developed the country to its current heights, or the opposition coalition which continues to divide the people. It is our responsibility to expose the true colours of the opposition – that they are no true coalition and are not bound by any shared principle. What exists is merely a casual relationship, void of any moral principle, genuine affinity or mutual respect. They are a coalition willing to be in cahoots merely to topple the Barisan Nasional Government, dreaming of Putrajaya.
Recent incidents since the 12th GE indicate that there is no sincerity of struggle in the opposition coalition. It would not be a stretch for me to contend that the DAP holds the reins. PAS steered away from its original core when the Islamic State ceased to be a key party agenda.
PAS no longer dares to speak up, much less criticize PKR and DAP on numerous matters. PAS is also no longer sensitive to issues that used to be central to their cause, such as the proposal of utilising zakat funds for the state administration of Selangor. This suggests that PAS is willing to sacrifice fundamental principles in its negotiations with DAP, all in the name of politics. Should that be the case now, there is no guarantee that PAS would not also sacrifice the country should it come to power.
If DAP is most powerful, we should ask: who is DAP, really? Masking its almost mono-racial character with the chimera of a multi-racial platform – when in truth, DAP’s priorities are unmistakably racial. After 40 years of Lim Kit Siang being a Parliamentarian, the opening of one Malay branch was deemed fit to shout about, as though it was an astounding achievement. DAP is multi-racial only in name, for its actual agenda is couched in racist sentiment.
PKR, on the other hand, is a party void of any ideological underpinning and instead revolves around the glorification of a man named Anwar Ibrahim. What is the crux of PKR’s struggle, or are they like their partners who yearn for power above all else? After all, if it is justice and anti-corruption that they are fighting for, then PKR should look to its own leader. Anwar Ibrahim has manipulated a section of the Malaysian populace with rhetoric, as though he is clean, pure, a beacon of integrity, while branding Umno leaders as corrupt, voracious and racist.
But Anwar Ibrahim should be mindful of his past deeds, for we surely have not forgotten. Switching to the opposition does not absolve him of his sins. As the pot calling the kettle black, Anwar’s past will shadow him no matter where he manoeuvres in the political arena.
Anwar tries to position himself as many things: the voice of the marginalised, a champion of Islam, the Malays and human rights. But is this truly Anwar Ibrahim, or is his political struggle motivated solely by personal ambitions? Anwar may have succeeded in deceiving some members of the younger generation who never really knew his true nature – a political chameleon who changes colour according to season. But Umno and Umno Youth most certainly remember the real Anwar, and we will ensure that this forked-tongue teller of tales will never make it in his quest to Putrajaya.
BN was formed in the spirit of brotherhood and an accord to uphold the Federal Constitution and the fundamentals of our nationhood. This is the shared platform that exists in BN. But the opposition coalition has no such shared understanding, apart from the desire to wrest control of the Federal Government – even then, we still have no idea who would be made Prime Minister should the opposition take over. In forming what appeared to be a Shadow Cabinet, they took a safe and evidently only option of naming three members to each cabinet portfolio, for unlike our party, they have not reached an understanding in the question of power sharing which has been tried and tested in BN.
Unlike BN too, the opposition coalition is not grounded by principles – they do not uphold even the Constitution. This is evident in DAP’s relentless attack on the position of our rulers, the Malay language and Islam, whilst its partners PAS and PKR not only watch idly, but in fact cast aside basic principles of this nation.
We must continue to expose the opposition’s dirty tactics. We have never been afraid of them; it is they who actually fear us. They fear the leadership of YAB Datuk Seri Najib. Without new ideas that benefit the people, they are left with little more than political tactics that instigate trouble and manufacture despair.
The opposition is worried that the people will have a long memory of the cruelty suffered by the residents of Kampung Buah Pala. They fear their yet unfulfilled electoral promises of giving RM1,000 to each child in Selangor offered a place in university and reducing assessment tax by 20 percent, will come back to haunt them. In essence, they their lies, trickery and propaganda will finally be revealed to the people.
Brothers, let us stand united in exposing them for what they are. We must defeat an opposition bent on playing a dangerous game, willing to put everything on the line in its lust for power. We will never allow the Barisan Nasional government to be defeated by parties that in fact, undermine each other and possess no sincerity in their struggle. The opposition have no qualms in legitimizing wrongs and ignoring truths in the greed for power.
We now see that the concept of 1Malaysia introduced by the President has succeeded in capturing the imagination of young people across the country. 1Malaysia is most appropriate in a time when the populace is hungry for a political vision based on the idea of unity and performance for the people. Guided by the spirit of 1Malaysia, Umno Youth has to abide by a new mission that will be the foundation of Umno Youth’s contemporary struggle. This is our new mission: to win the support of all Malaysians, and not just the Malays. In our words, agenda and strategy, Umno Youth must operate based on this new mission – giving hope to all Malaysian regardless of race, religion and background.
Umno, as BN’s biggest party must embrace a vision that demonstrates our leadership credentials – a leadership that is comprehensive, inclusive and national. This calls for courage because it requires us to shift away from our comfort zones of a communal party perspective to a more holistic political consciousness, which incorporates all.
I mention courage too, because we are now at a crossroads of our cause, where we can choose to remain on the same path with the same style and methods. We can continue with the chest-thumping rhetoric, warning other races never to challenge this or that. This option is easy, and may promise a measure of popularity within the party. But, we must ask ourselves, is this what Malaysians – Malays included – really want from Umno, especially when the President is bringing the message of unity through the concept of 1Malaysia? For the 21st century Umno Youth, the courageous choice is to position ourselves as the pioneers of national unity through the spirit of 1Malaysia.
Some may hold that it is the President who should carry a national message, whilst Umno Youth should carry on with what is familiar. But if we choose to do so, the people will view Umno as a party in disarray, hypocrites, without a consistent ideology for the people and electorate. And in the era of technology, which can expose any duplicity, we will be judged as a party that does not practise what it preaches. This means the entire institutions of party and government must be on the same page, carrying a consistent message. In this new context, do we want the President to speak about a transformation – removing barriers between races and communities – whilst Umno Youth stubbornly refuses to change, and instead, continues to voice something different from the President?
A change to this new path does not mean we forego the Malay agenda. Umno and Umno Youth will always fight for the Malays – protecting the status of Islam, the Malay rulers and the Malay language. These are the core elements of Umno’s struggle that will never dissipate from our agenda. However, we must pursue these things based on two principles: justice and compassion, especially when dealing with other races. This compass will underline our national agenda that is grounded not in the narrow concept of Malay dominance, but on the concept of Malay leadership – magnanimous as well as both just and compassionate.
In truth, if we were to look back at the history of Umno and BN’s leadership, the two principles of justice and compassion are firmly entrenched in our nation’s politics. Umno and BN have demonstrated the ability to fight for the welfare of all Malaysians. For example, the agenda of poverty alleviation is not premised on the basis of race alone, but is instead extended to all Malaysians who are less fortunate. Thus, grounded on a political foundation respected by all, the change and rejuvenation we need is for Umno and the Malays to be consistent in our national leadership for all Malaysians.
That all of society should be represented and respected is not only something considered a universal right; it comes also from our own religion. Umno as a governing party in BN often takes inspiration from Islam to guide its policies – for instance, the principle in Islam Hadhari that guarantees the protection of minority rights. Thus, there should be nothing strange in Malays also fighting for Malaysians as a whole. In fact, when we respect the beliefs of others, they too will better respect ours. Allah SWT commands in Surah Al An’am, verse 108:
“And insult not those who worship besides Allah, lest they insult Allah wrongfully without knowledge.”
Some may wonder if we should fight for other communities if they question our position as Malays. It is here that out leadership credentials will be tested. As the group of people given the responsibility and privilege to lead, Malays cannot simply follow the common beat – that would not be leadership. Instead, as leaders, Malays must rise above and go the extra mile. Only then will we have the ability to lead and be acknowledged as leaders who have wider recognition. This is another example of Malay leadership that I spoke of – a leadership that is just and compassionate, and accepted by all.
The shift towards a more sound, national Malay leadership can best be achieved if Malays themselves make the leap to a political struggle based on a civilisational confidence. Civilisational confidence means as Malays, we are confident of our own ability to move forward, setting out a vision for success without being afraid of our own shadow. This is our generation’s challenge.
I speak of a generational challenge because for too long, Malays and Umno have been caught in a mindset that is negative and overly defensive. We feel as though we are constantly under siege, and all our efforts appear to be channeled towards protecting the Malay special position. I urge Malays, beginning with the youth, to get out of this siege mentality. Undeniably, we consider Article 153, which guarantees the special position of Malays and bumiputras as sacrosanct. However, if we scratch beneath the surface, we would find that it is almost impossible for Article 153 to be stripped from the Constitution, as it would require the approval of two-thirds of Parliament. And in the improbable situation were this to occur, it would still require consent from the Council of Rulers. This should serve as a reminder that realistically, our special position as stipulated in the Constitution cannot possibly be changed.
But consider this: Article 153 in itself does not guarantee progress and development for the Malays. Constitutional provisions do not make us ‘special’ or extraordinary, it is the performance and achievements of Malays that will determine if we are.
Rights and privileges of the Malays are important. But more important is how the Malays are empowered in order to truly succeed. What is needed is a new dimension to our cause so that the economic share and status of Malays can be advanced, consistent with the spirit of Malay empowerment we must collectively pursue. Umno and the Malays as a whole must move away from a defensive setting, where we assume that our rights are under threat, to a people equipped with our own civilisational confidence – carving a vision of progress for the future. This is the new Malay dilemma – the generational question of our time which must be addressed: are we going to defend symbols for their sake, or are we bold and courageous enough to accept the reality that there needs to be a change in both vision and mechanisms to see Malays forge ahead? I believe the answer lies in the latter.
I believe this new vision is also one held by the President, who for example, recently abolished the 30 percent bumiputra equity requirement for companies going for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Bursa Malaysia. Most certainly, the President made this decision not because of a lack of commitment to the Malay agenda, but because the “30 percent” mechanism has failed to achieve its original aims.
The President himself mentioned that from RM54bil worth of shares given to bumiputras through this mechanism, only RM2bil remains – sold for a quick profit. Thus proving that there are symbols and mechanisms we have defended in the past, which have not succeeded in their objectives.
It is significant that when the President abolished the said Bumiputera equity requirement, he introduced Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) as an investment institution that can encourage the growth of high-potential Bumiputera companies. This is the shift pioneered by the President – channeling adequate assistance to deserving and talented Malays. There is no preoccupation with symbolic mechanisms that only serve to stifle competitiveness of the Malays and give us a false sense of confidence without a meaningful contribution towards genuine Malay economic development.
Fulfilling the vision for our community’s advancement would require the confidence to accept competition based our own on merit and abilities. Let us not speak of meritocracy between races if we cannot first practise it within our own community. As members of the younger generation, we must avoid the culture of destroying budding talents before they are realised. It would be a great shame if, motivated by jealousy, we work to bring down Malays with potential for our own twisted pleasure. We must rid ourselves of envy and resentment towards other Malays. Instead, we should assist and encourage each other towards success. This is the meaning of ”civilisational confidence” – we fear not our own shadow.
My dream is to one day see local institutions of higher education filled with Malays not because of quotas, but because Malays are there based on merit. Whilst we protect the quotas now, let us not forget that they are only supposed to aid us, and not be a lifeline for the Malays unto perpetuity. The Malay vision is not about defending quotas indefinitely, but to stand proud seeing Malays succeed on their own strengths.
There is no reason to be pessimistic about our own potential – the confidence to accept more open competition already exists in our cultural DNA. Are we going to stand here and claim that history has never demonstrated the Malays as hardworking and able to overcome challenges to accomplish goals? Simply look at Malay proverbs, which encourage perseverance, diligence, thriftiness, as well as responsiveness to challenges and the world around, such as:
Kalau tak dipecahkan ruyung manakan dapat sagunya
Sabar penghilang penat, tekun pembawa dekat
Rajin bekerja mudah belanja
Cermat masa banyak, jimat masa sedikit
Cicir dipungut, hilang dicari
Dalam berselam, cetek bertimba
Such a vision and shift also calls for courage from the Malays to look ahead, with the self-confidence and self-belief to achieve progress. As the youths of our time, ours is the generation that can make that change. Ours is the generation that can insist that we have had enough! Enough of putting down our own race. Enough of being crippled by the illusion that says Malays are slow, Malays are lazy, Malays are stupid. Ours is the generation that can stand up to the challenge by saying that Malays are no longer afraid to face the outside world because Malays are not slow, Malays are not lazy, Malays are not stupid. On the contrary, Malays are a majestic people – intelligent and multi-talented. Malay youths of this generation must lead our community out of this crippling mindset that has eroded our self-belief, towards progress and development in the future – this is our struggle.
Apalah erti omongan jika lekang dengan tindakan;
Harapan berkecai bak debu berterbangan jika tidak diampuh peranan;
Puas sudah gurindam dilagu, merungkai mengupas belenggu bangsaku;
Laungan dan panji-panji menggegar jiwa,
jumud dan kaku, makin sayup merintih sayu;
Namun aku pasti;
Fajar kini menyingsing lagi;
Menyingkap tirai membawa harapan seribu erti;
Namun menjajikan kegelapan kepada yang dengkal
Alpa dan iri hati;
Justeru bangunlah bangsaku;
Penuh kesedaran dalam kematangan
Disuntik azam baru;
Gembelingkan tenaga, berpadu, kita teguh bersatu;
Perwajakan hati, perkasakan diri
Sedia kita tempuh segala seteru;
Kerana masa beredar dan bumi berputar
Memungkinkan perubahan yang tidak menentu,
Justeru bangunlah bangsaku yang mapan dan berdikari,
Dibawah laungan 1Malaysia
Agar kita duduk sama rendah, kita berdiri lebih tinggi,
Agar jiwa bangsaku yang bermaruah
Tidak ditindas, tidak dihina, tidak perlu merintih lagi;
Mengibar panji di puncak ekonomi
Bukan lagi suatu mimpi;
Jangan kita tersungkur lagi;
Sejarah hitam jangan kita ulangi
Cukuplah hanya sekali;
Perjuangan ini kita isi, kita galas, kita tunjangi;
Biar anak-anak kita tidak malu untuk mengakui;
Bahawa hasil perjuangan ayahnya bangga dikecapi;
Maruah bangsanya megah diwarisi.
Bangunlah bersama negaraku.
Let us, as Umno Youth leaders, stand behind our President and Deputy President, let us all defend the government which has stood the test of time, overcoming many barriers and challenges, without ever sacrificing its basic principles of struggle. The government that has been with us through good times and bad, that has worked tirelessly to develop this nation, without having to dish out false promises simply to be in power.
Let us wake up to the fact that we are at a crossroads of our cause. This is the moment we, as members of the young generation, unite to steer our struggle towards glory and distinction – towards a great civilisation. Stand all, and answer the call, bring hope, meet our obligations in the name of our religion, people, and country.
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