PETALING JAYA: The approved permit (AP) issue is set to be a hot topic at the Umno general assembly now that the party president has given delegates the go-ahead to debate freely.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told delegates at a closed-door presidential council briefing yesterday that they can debate the AP issue at length so long as they refrain from making up stories.
He explained that he had released the list of AP holders on Monday to set the record straight because people had been coming to him with all sorts of claims about who were getting the APs and who were not.
According to the delegates, Abdullah wanted to give the correct picture of the issue, and had consulted many people before deciding to release the list.
Abdullah, they said, had also told them that from the list, they should be able to see that the APs were not abused, as they had been given to people with some kind of interest in the motor vehicle industry.
The Prime Minister, they said, had also explained that he had shown the list to Proton Holdings Bhd chairman Datuk Azlan Hashim and had asked him to analyse it to see how it would affect Proton.
He had also assured delegates that he would continue to support the national car industry and would make sure that Protons interest would not be jeopardised by any of his policies.
Abdullahs explanation on the AP issue took up a substantial portion of his 90-minute briefing, yet not once did he make any reference to the spat between former prime minister and Proton advisor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz.
Another issue that he discussed extensively was the failure of Malays to achieve the 30% economic share as stipulated under the New Economic Policy.
He told the delegates how important it was for the party to set the agenda to meet the NEP target as the current 19% achievement rate was way below target.
Abdullah later told a press conference that the general assembly would be the last chance for delegates to give their input on the Ninth Malaysia Plan that would start from next year.
I hope that Umno delegates would take this opportunity to seriously debate issues on development, particularly those affecting the Malays.
Abdullah said he had also briefly touched on issues affecting the construction industry and explained to the delegates the workings of the partys disciplinary board.