A giant step for the Malays


  • Nation
  • Friday, 22 Jul 2005

THIS assembly is a very important forum that provides delegates the opportunity to provide input on the way the party and the Government operate. It is also an avenue to state their views on the prevailing domestic and international scenario, in our efforts towards the betterment of our people, our country and our religion. 

This is the party’s premier forum to discuss issues, provide feedback and to frame resolutions, so that we can realise the aspirations of the party members and the people. 

Our leadership will become more effective if members are honest and sincere, courageous and firm and voice the truth. Our leadership will be more effective if leaders can accept criticisms, views and suggestions with open minds and sincere hearts. 

 

THE PRESIDENT SPEAKS: Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi delivering his speech at the assembly yesterday.

Current scenario 

The world greeted 2005 with grief. The tsunami on Dec 26, last year, claimed more than 200,000 lives. 

More than two million Asians became impoverished, lost their possessions and were deprived of their livelihood. The tragedy is a reminder to humankind of the humbling power of God. 

The disaster moved the world into displaying immense depth of humanitarian spirit. Much aid was provided and Malaysians contributed generously. The world would be a more peaceful and harmonious place if such humanitarian values became a way of life, particularly among those who exercise power. 

Economic growth in 2005 will be moderate. Rising oil prices will impact the global economy. 

Asia, particularly East Asia, will continue to be important to the world economy. Apart from China and Japan, India is moving swiftly and is forecast to become the third-largest economy in the world by 2015, after China and the United States. 

Umno is entering its 60th year and Malaysia is on the threshold of celebrating its 48th year of independence. 

A mere 15 years remain to the finish line of Vision 2020 and that is all the time we have left to realise to ambition of achieving developed nation status.  

 

International relations 

In the globalised era, Malaysia cannot afford to remain isolated to fulfil its development agenda. 

The country’s economic growth does not only depend on domestic resources. It also depends on external resources for funding, knowledge and expertise. 

We must have an independent and pragmatic foreign policy to ensure our country’s interests are protected on the international stage. 

It is crucial for Malaysia not to be aligned with any particular bloc, to ensure that we maintain good relations with all nations, regardless of belief and ideology. However, we must be consistent with our principles to ensure Malaysia continues to be respected, believed and trusted. 

We are compelled to address global issues that touch on peace, sovereignty, independence, international trade, global financial and banking systems and various international protocols. 

We are involved in various international organisations and are honoured to be entrusted to lead the OIC and NAM. At the end of this month, Malaysia will also be given the responsibility the chairmanship of Asean. For the first time in history, Malaysia will simultaneously chair three international organisations. 

In December, we will host the inaugural East Asian Summit. We want our term at the helm to bring development and a new dimension to these organisations. 

The NAM Business Council was launched in June 2004. The council will serve as a platform for the business community in member countries to create South-South cooperation networks. 

In May 2005, we hosted the inaugural ministerial level meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement to discuss the advancement of women. The Declaration of the Meeting stressed that the role and participation of women in all aspects, sectors and levels is required to achieve gender equality. 

BIGGER VIEW: A giant image of Abdullah speaking during the assembly is shown on a huge projection screen in the assembly hall.

As OIC Chairman, I want to focus on an economic agenda.  

Muslim nations that are successful will be more politically-stable, more respected in the international arena and will be able to speak out more effectively. In line with that vision, Malaysia is spearheading an agenda to develop the economies of OIC member countries. 

The first-ever OIC Trade Forum was held in Kuala Lumpur on June 20, 2005. We commenced efforts to draft a 10-year master plan to develop the Islamic Financial Services industry. 

The OIC Bond Fund has been proposed to pay for infrastructure development programmes, particularly in the least-developed member countries.  

Malaysia has been effective at international forums because it is able to speak up without fear or favour in the interests of the groups it represents. Malaysia is respected for its ability to conduct quiet diplomacy, especially in efforts to broker peace and to help resolve crises and conflicts. 

We have played an active role in bringing together groups in conflict in Kampuchea, Bosnia and the Philippines. We will also be active in helping programmes to reconstruct Iraq and in the peace process in Palestine. 

Malaysia firmly holds to the principle of a nation’s independence and sovereignty, regardless of size. In accordance with that principle, we are firm in our stand, that it is our responsibility to safeguard the Straits of Malacca. We will not allow foreign troops to patrol these straits. We will view any uninvited presence as an intrusion and a sign of disrespect for our independence and sovereignty. 

The image of Islam has been tarnished following the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in New York. This image has been further blemished by subsequent terrorist incidents, the latest being the terror attack in London on July 7. 

In this context, I have three missions that I wish to implement. 

First, I will continue to stress for all parties, especially the major powers, to understand the root causes of terrorism which is the most important approach to overcome terrorism. 

Second, as OIC Chairman, it is my responsibility to explain to the global community that Islam is a religion of peace and is opposed to terrorism. 

Third, as Prime Minister of Malaysia, I am responsible for showcasing to the world that Malaysia is a modern Islamic country – a trade partner that is dynamic, responsible and trustworthy, a safe haven for investment and a safe destination for tourists. 

 

Islam 

The advances of the nation and the ummah have resulted in the Malays being seen as standard-bearers of Islam, in this country and internationally. 

We are aware that there are groups, in Malaysia and abroad, that use Islam to fulfil narrow agendas. They are willing to commit extreme acts of violence in the name of Islam. Most regretfully, their actions inevitably bring destruction and suffering to innocents, including Muslims. 

It is our responsibility to ensure that the use of Islam and its symbols to propagate a culture of extremism and violence does not occur in this country. 

We have a responsibility to protect Malays and Muslims from becoming tools to those who want to promote their narrow agenda. 

The approach of Islam Hadhari was introduced against this backdrop. Islam Hadhari is a long-term government effort to ensure Islam is practised in a more holistic, broader and more diverse context that encompasses all aspects of life. 

MALAY SPIRIT: Delegates showing their support during Abdullah’s address at the opening of the assembly yesterday.

We have introduced Islam Hadhari to enable Muslims in Malaysia to become the vanguard of a new civilisation that can bring about progressive and comprehensive change. 

Alhamdulillah, this approach to Islam is increasingly understood and accepted by the people, including non-Muslims. 

Our success in bringing Islam in a progressive and dynamic manner has caused anxiety among some political groups who have, up till now, monopolised Islam for their purposes. Therefore, they have tried to sabotage Islam Hadhari, which has been purposely painted as something that is confusing. 

In truth, Islam Hadhari does not denigrate the sanctity of Islam. It is an approach that is consistent with the tenets of our religion, an initiative to enable the practice of region in a comprehensive manner. It does not change the basic principles and core teachings of Islam. It is an approach to Islam that requires understanding and focus, based on contemporary needs and challenges. 

There are those who try to slander Islam Hadhari by claiming it only focuses on worldly pursuits. This is patently false – the first principle of Islam Hadhari is “Faith and Piety in Allah”, which clearly confirms faith and piety in Allah as the core of Islam Hadhari and the Quran and the Sunnah as the first points of reference.  

Explanations on Islam Hadhari have been carried out overseas, beginning with my keynote address at Oxford University in October last year, and during my official visits to India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Australia and Germany.  

Islam Hadhari underpins our efforts to develop the Muslim community in Malaysia. InsyaAllah, it will become a principal inspiration to give us strength and momentum to take a giant step forward, to achieve excellence and to contribute to the development of human civilisation. 

Islam Hadhari can be a compass that points to success in this world and the hereafter. Because of this, government development plans will be explained from the perspective of Islam Hadhari – in education, economics, healthcare, family development, poverty eradication and fighting corruption, crime and social ills.  

Islam Hadhari prioritises the development of civilisation. We must improve our quality of life by developing people who accumulate knowledge and master skills. 

Islam’s glory and the greatness of the ummah will be restored through physical development that is complemented by human development. 

 

Economy 

Malaysia has crossed the threshold into the premier league of world trade. 

Nations are not given special treatment when faced with global challenges and, as a small nation, Malaysia must compete under the same rules as major economies such as the United States, the European Union, China, Japan and India. 

Although competition is stiff, we are gratified that Malaysia has maintained its position as one of the world’s leading trading nations. Our country is the third-largest economy in South-East Asia. Statistics show that in 2004, Malaysia was the 18th-ranked exporting nation in the world and the 20th-ranked importing nation. Total trade amounted to RM882bil. 

In a report by Deutsche Bank on the growth potential of 34 developed and developing nations for the period 2006 to 2020, Malaysia is recognised as the second-fastest growing country, ahead of China but behind India. 

Malaysia is among the 15 top destinations for foreign direct investment and the third in the world as an outsourcing destination, according to a report by the consultants AT Kearney. 

And yet another report, by AT Kearney together with Foreign Policy magazine, identifies Malaysia as the only Asian country to be included in their list of the 20 most-global nations. 

All this represents great potential for our nation. We must be quick to seize opportunities and swift to act. We must be prepared to compete to attain maximum benefit. We have made the necessary preparations. The Ninth Malaysia Plan is a blueprint as well as an action plan and, therefore, we must put in place several strategies. 

First, we must multiply our efforts to ensure higher and sustained economic performance. 

Our resources are limited. Therefore, we must manage our economy carefully and consider the long-term implications for the nation and its people. 

It is imperative to safeguard funds and savings for the future. We must manage public spending and strike a balance between stimulating economic activity to prompt economic growth and running up a deficit that develops into an unmanageable problem. 

The most-difficult decision that I had to make after assuming the responsibilities of Prime Minister was to reduce the deficit. 

We will reduce the deficit in stages to allow the economy to still prosper and a reasonable amount of development expenditure has still been allocated. We must replenish our strength to face eventualities that may lie in the future. 

For some, the decision to reduce the deficit is seen as denying them a source of income to which they have become accustomed. 

I am conscious that the Government’s decision is not politically-popular, but I firmly believe that the long-term interest of our country takes precedence. The interests of the nation must be placed ahead of the political interests of certain groups or individuals. 

Second, we must build a knowledge-based economy. 

Malaysia is no longer a low-cost producer, but we have yet to join the group of high-technology nations. We are somewhere in between. 

Circumstances require us to shift our approach and prioritise efforts that enhance productivity, encourage creativity and innovation and focus on areas where we have a competitive advantage. 

The Ninth Malaysia Plan is currently being structured. Our hardware – physical development and infrastructure – has been expanded at an intense pace during the first 15 years since Vision 2020 was launched. 

In the second phase, emphasis will be given to the software – elements that touch on human development to optimise on physical facilities so that we can realise our aspiration of attaining developed-nation status. 

Human capital is the most-important element in an economy and we must now engage in value-adding and capacity-building. Research and development programmes and the mastery of science, technology, knowledge and skills must be encouraged to catalyse new inventions and products and create new wealth. 

Third, we will strengthen the basics and fundamentals of our economy and explore new sources of growth. 

The agriculture sector will be stimulated through the application of biotechnology and the most-modern techniques; the manufacturing sector will be enhanced through encouraging investment in high-technology industries, while the services sector will be strengthened, particularly the areas of tourism, education, healthcare, Islamic finance and the production on halal foods. 

Fourth, the public-sector delivery system will be further improved. 

We should compare the efficiency and speed of our delivery system with developed countries and countries that record high economic growth. 

Investors, including domestic investors do not have the time or patience to wait long periods. Investors will choose destinations that facilitate business. 

We want the private sector to be the engine of growth and therefore a delivery system that is efficient and expedient is critical. We must genuinely achieve this in reality and not merely enshrine it on bits of paper. 

Excessive bureaucracy must be abolished. A delivery system that is efficient and expedient plays a big role in reducing corruption, which increases the cost of doing business and consequently blunts our competitive edge. 

Fifth, efforts to enhance integrity and eradicate corruption covers every sector and grouping – in the public sector, statutory agencies, government-linked companies and the private sector. 

The Government is fully aware that corruption increased the cost of administration, the cost of doing business and the cost of production, apart from affecting the quality of services and products. 

Sixth, we will improve housing, healthcare, education and infrastructure development to improve the people’s quality of life.  

Seventh, we will eradicate hardcore poverty during the Ninth Malaysia Plan. 

Eighth, we will reduce the income gap. We will work to reduce the gap between Malays and non-Malays, amongst Malays, and between the low-income group and the middle-class through the enhancement of cultural capital. 

The income gap between the urban and rural populations and between the different regions must be reduced via making appropriate allocations to develop rural areas by way of providing basic transportation and communications infrastructure, the supply of electricity and water and the provision of educational and healthcare institutions. 

Ninth, we will ensure capacity-building and capacity-enhancement of our human resources. 

Unemployment is a waste, more so if it involves those who are academically-qualified. The public sector and the private sector can no longer accommodate the increasing numbers of graduates. 

Graduates must therefore be prepared to be self-employed. Training and education institutes must evaluate their courses and syllabuses to be relevant to current human resource needs. 

Tenth, we will build a nation that is stable, united, peaceful and prosperous. Economic programmes and social programmes must reflect the Government’s just and fair consideration of all of Malaysia’s different communities. In addition, the investment climate must foster confidence among investors. 

 

The Malay Agenda 

Malays are worried that other communities will leave them behind in terms of social status and economic achievement. 

During the 1960s, the income gap between Malays and non-Malays was vast, with Malays earning less than half compared with non-Malays. This gap created a feeling of unease among Malays. 

After the May 13 incident, the Government realised that it was imperative to implement a programme that could create socio-economic parity amongst the country’s different races. 

The Malays had to be given opportunities to enable them to elevate themselves so that they could equitably enjoy the fruits of economic progress. The New Economic Policy (NEP) was, therefore, introduced as a formula to reduce the disparity in economic achievement amongst the various races in the country.  

The NEP gave a new lease of life to the Malays. It was instrumental in producing more skilled and educated Malays. It was successful in increasing the numbers of Malay professionals and managers. It opened up opportunities for Malays to venture into various industries. It was the catalyst for the Bumiputra Commercial and Industrial Community. 

The Malay middle-class was also enlarged through the NEP. The NEP succeeded in enhancing the living standards and incomes of the Malays. 

When the policy was first implemented, Malays only earned 44 sen for each ringgit earned by the non-Malays. When the NEP concluded in 1990, the Malays had narrowed this gap to earn 57 sen for each ringgit, an increase of 30%. Bumiputra equity holdings increased from 2% when the NEP was first implemented to 19% by the year 2000. 

Latest statistics indicate that the NEP’s targets have only been partially-achieved. This has not been due to faults in the policy. 

Among the factors that have contributed to the inability to achieve the targets are leakages at the implementation stage. This is because of the actions of rent-seekers who prioritise short-term gains. 

The opportunities that were given were abused instead of being used to expand businesses or to enhance capacity that would have ensured continued and lasting success. 

Permits, facilities, contracts and licences which were allocated to bumiputras were instead handed over to others for quick profit. Having done so, they asked for new opportunities once, twice, and more. As a consequence, a class of Malays arose that turned being middlemen into a full-time profession. 

Quotas were allocated for bumiputras to own shares, with the objective of achieving equity-ownership targets. Tragically for the Malays, these shares were sold almost immediately for quick gain. 

There were also individuals who were trusted to helm companies, but became satisfied with mere symbolic involvement and chose to remain on the sidelines. 

Even more tragic for the Malays were those who betrayed the trust of a community and committed fraud. 

Apart from failing the objectives of the NEP, these leakages have tarnished the image of Malays and eroded the confidence of others towards us. 

The problems we face must be tackled with a new mindset and a fresh spirit. Our dignity and our survival are at stake. 

The Malaysia of yesterday when the NEP was first introduced is radically different from the Malaysia of the knowledge-based economy. Today’s economy provides opportunities to those who are knowledgeable, industrious and value-added. 

We must fix the shortcomings in the implementing of the NEP and ignite a zeal for capacity-building that will increase the income of Malays in absolute terms on a sustainable basis. Our goal is to achieve parity of income. Malays should earn one ringgit for every one ringgit earned by non-Malays.  

People are a nation’s greatest assets. A country needs human capital to ensure its survival. Human capital can be infused with added value, its intellect can be sharpened and its cultural capital can be enriched. 

Developing human capital is crucial in increasing a nation’s productivity and competitiveness. 

Therefore the Government will redouble efforts and increase programmes to develop human capital to ensure that Malays have the requisite physical, mental and spiritual strength. 

We will also multiply our efforts and provide more facilities to ensure more Malays master science and technology. This will ensure a sustained supply of Malay professionals. 

Education and training based on the latest knowledge and technology – that is the focal point of the Malay development agenda. This agenda must emphasise content and software to improve the quality of life. 

Malays should never stop pursuing knowledge and skills. Malays must embrace life-long learning. We will continue to provide entrepreneurial, professional and employment opportunities for Malays, but it will be necessary to revise procedures to ensure opportunities are given to Malays who are truly qualified and capable, Malays who adopt good work and business ethics. 

Easy profits that are gained by merely lending a bumiputra identity to companies or through the middlemen culture are temporary. These are practices that contravene the spirit of the NEP and must stop now. 

This new strategy will also ensure that Malays can continue to grow without excessive reliance on the Government. 

Malays must be intelligent enough to diversify knowledge and skills and to diversify products and services in line with the latest economic trends. The Government does not want Malays to forever depend on the same economic activity that yields limited returns. 

The Bumiputra Commercial and Industrial Community (BCIC) must be able to stand on its own feet and seize new opportunities as they come. The Government will play the role of catalyst and facilitator. If we do not develop a culture of self-reliance, then we will not be able to create a true Bumiputra Commercial and Industrial Community. 

The BCIC must become a motivating force, a potent catalyst to ensure Malays succeed in business. Malay industrialists must expand so that they may generate economic activity for the emerging generation, for their families and for their community. 

More Malay industrialists must be capable of expanding their businesses to a level whereby they can bequeath these businesses to their heirs. Business and self-reliance must become an integral part of Malay culture. 

Our target to achieve 30% equity holdings must continue, but our real property holdings must not be overlooked. Land is a natural resource that is becoming increasingly scarce. It is crucial to guarantee continued Malay land ownership, especially in urban areas to prevent Malays from being marginalised in their own land. 

Wakaf (endowed) land, customary land, Malay reserve land, ancestral land and agricultural land must not be left untended; instead, this land should be developed to create value and higher economic returns. 

There are many Malays who have attained success and higher socio-economic status within the course of only one generation. This is the kind of Malays who should be helped to enhance their capacity. 

The slowdown of the construction industry provides valuable lessons. Activity in the construction sector is less vigorous than before and this has caused anxiety amongst Malay contractors. 

The worst-affected are the Class F contractors who carry out projects below RM200,000. Class F contractors were created with the objective of encouraging bumiputras to break into the construction industry. 

The high volume of activity for the past 15 years has given Malay businessmen the wrong impression. Perhaps many Malay businessmen assumed that the construction sector was a means to obtain sustained and continuing wealth. Therefore, they rushed to be involved in this sector and later entrants joined an industry that had already reached saturation point. 

In 1992, there were only 2,049 bumiputra contractors. By 2005, the figure had breached 46,000 – an increase exceeding 2,000% in 13 years. Of these, more than 42,000 were registered as Class F contractors. Almost all these contractors expected government contracts. 

There are 63,000 contractors of all classes in a nation of 25 million. This equates to one contractor for every 350 Malaysians. In comparison, Japan, whose contractors participate successfully in international tenders, the ratio is only one contractor to 10,000. 

In 2003, the Government approved construction and supply contracts amounting to RM26bil, the highest allocation during the past five years. In 2005, it allocated RM22bil, the second-highest amount during this period. 

But still there are not enough contracts to be shared among the multitude of contractors in the industry. Clearly, in the construction sector, supply of services far outstrips the demand for it. There are too many players on a shrinking field. 

In 2000, the Government was compelled to launch a pre-emptive package of projects, allocating RM3mil for each parliamentary constituency aimed at ensuring the survival of Class F contractors. 

Contractors should have seen the writing on the wall and realised that future prospects were already dimming. The Government cannot play the role of Santa Claus, perpetually handing out gifts. Contractors should have taken this as a signal to diversify to other sectors. Unfortunately, the Government’s one off effort was misinterpreted and as a result, the number of contractors increased instead of declining. 

The Government has been asked, prompted and even threatened to pump-prime as it has done in the past, but every cycle runs its course. The Government must take a realistic stand because it is responsible for managing the economy with due care and consider the long-term effects on the nation and its people. 

Spending must be controlled and stimulating economic activity to prompt growth cannot be done at the expense of placing the nation’s finances in a perilous and unstable state. All nations are subject to the same economic rules. Any nation risks bankruptcy if it is incapable of funding its expenditure. 

The Government cannot pretend and pull the wool over the eyes of Umno members, the Malays and indeed the Malaysian people. The strength of the Malay people should not be built on falsity. I am aware that this approach may not be popular, but we must choose the right path. The survival of our community and our nation must come first. 

Malays should look for new sources of wealth, primarily in sectors where they have long been involved and have inherent advantages. There are numerous such sources in agriculture, fisheries and related industries. 

These areas have the potential to provide long-lasting returns. There is much potential to be capitalised on, especially with the application of biotechnology. My visit to the Netherlands has strengthened my conviction that there are gains to be made in these sectors. A country the size of Pahang is capable of becoming the second-largest world exporter of food and agricultural products. 

We must change the way we perceive agriculture. Malays should lead the way by becoming modern farmers, developing agriculture and energising the agro-based industry to leap into the manufacturing sector. 

I believe that if we have the readiness and the courage to involve ourselves in new sectors that hold great potential, in services, tourism and handicrafts, we can build a group of Malay entrepreneurs who can stand on their own. 

Shifting to these new sectors is vital for Malays to be able to participate in business and the economy on a broader and more comprehensive manner. The Government will also give emphasis to small and medium industries that hold the potential to grow in this sector. 

The Government will maintain its policy of assisting the growth of Malays in the private sector by offering incentives and developing schemes. 

Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) must drive the Malay development agenda. Vendor programmes and GLC procurement will be improved to provide more opportunities to bumiputra vendors that are genuine and competent, who are efficient, able and competitive. 

Focus must be directed to the software components: the know-how and skills, the values and ethics. These efforts involve internal change and things that are intangible. They involve elements not immediately visible to the naked eye and it will be a marathon, but we must have the courage to set off the first steps of the race now. 

Equality does not mean that every individual should have the same economic standing. The equality that we wish to promote must take into account merit and performance. 

For the next 14 years, we must take a giant step in order to achieve equality. The journey must begin now and the right strategies must be put in place for the sake of the future of the Malays and Malaysia. We must be sure that we are on the right track to avoid missing our targets. 

We should learn from our successes and take stock of our failures. Efforts to improve the status and performance of the Malays must be done within the context of a growing Malaysian economy. 

We must take the correct steps to equitably benefit from the fruits of development. We must ensure that wastage does not occur and that instead, our economic management reflects efficiency, effectiveness, justice and equality. 

The intense competition that we face will not give us room to allow wastage and will not allow us to hand over responsibility to those who do not have the experience, knowledge, capacity and capability.  

No one can deny that in the past, there are those among us who have received too much assistance and too many chances. There are those who have not received enough assistance and those who have not been given opportunities at all. This is not fair and far from just. This cannot continue. 

There will never be enough contracts, licenses, permits or scholarships for all bumiputras. We must wake up to the fact that when we award a scholarship to an unqualified bumiputra, we are depriving a more deserving bumiputra recipient. This is clearly unjust. 

Awarding a contract to a bumiputra company that is incapable of doing quality work when there are other bumiputra companies that are more capable is also unjust and cannot be allowed to continue. In fact, it is a form of wastage. 

Awarding licenses and permits without taking into account merit and performance is also a form of wastage. We cannot turn a blind eye and take these matters lightly. 

All of this forms a culture that can destroy our community and eventually cause the downfall of our nation. It must be stopped. We set targets, but others mock us. What is the use of taking pride in achieving bumiputra equity targets on paper when there are bumiputras who are holding that equity on behalf of others? This is fraud. 

The bumiputra economic agenda will never be achieved if this is allowed to continue. We must have courage to take firm corrective measures. 

We will not succeed in taking a giant step forward if we fail to focus on developing a culture that strives for excellence based on merit and performance among bumiputras. 

We must be courageous to correct the errors of the past. This may be onerous, but we must exercise the political will with fortitude and resolve to effect change. In truth, we are taking serious and responsible steps to strengthen the Malays. 

If we continue to pander to those who only know how to use the back door, we are sowing the seeds of a culture that will destroy us. Instead, we must build a culture that allows Malays to challenge, perform and possess merit to the point that they can compete on the world stage. 

The most-durable foundation to succeed is to have desire, skill, expertise, knowledge, resilience and industry. If all these aspects can be inculcated in Malays, God-willing, we need not worry. 

Conversely, if these components are missing, then success will not come knocking. Let us begin now, with all the political will and political strength that Umno has, by focusing on education and training to develop our human capital and enrich our cultural capital. 

From this day on, let us prepare ourselves to take a giant step; a giant step for the Malay Race. 

The success of the Malays lies at the heart of Umno’s struggle. It is the responsibility we bear and the trust that we have been given. Our objective is to see Malays play a significant and meaningful role.The developed nation that we envision must be accompanied with progress for the Malays. There is no sense in being a developed nation when Malays are marginalised. It is not enough to ensure that Malays will not disappear from Earth, when we lag so far behind. 

We must develop a mindset that is built on success and rooted in excellence. Each step that we take together on this long journey must strengthen our souls and our minds, grow our confidence, reinforce our resolve to ensure we achieve excellence, glory and distinction. 

When we succeed, it will not matter wherever we are, in whatever company we find ourselves – our presence will be felt and we will be respected. We will be Towering Malays. 

 

Umno 

Umno belongs to the Malays. Our legacy is now 59 years old. It has grown from strength to strength with age. The people have accepted it and they have faith in Umno because it has successfully advanced Islamic teachings, given meaning to independence and uplifted the dignity of the community. 

Umno continues to be relevant and evergreen because we constantly think of the future and of future generations. We are far-sighted in our vision and we plans for the long term. We have been blessed with the mandate to lead the Government from the day we became independent. 

Our objectives of achieving national unity, our concept of power sharing, the New Economic Policy and Vision 2020 have all been instrumental in creating a brighter tomorrow for future generations. We have laid the foundations for a more peaceful, prosperous and progressive Malaysia. We make every effort to fulfil our objectives and dreams. 

Party elders view it as their responsibility to groom and nurture the young so that they will one day inherit the trust of the people. We have to nurture and cultivate the younger generation in Umno from all the wings of the party – Wanita, Pemuda, Puteri and Putera – guide, advise and support them. 

The younger generation today is better-educated and better-skilled. Their contributions are vital in building a successful people and a successful country. 

Umno members need to discipline themselves, have strong moral values and must avoid involvement in activities that will cause the people to view us with cynicism. For an organisation to remain strong and retain power, it must place importance in discipline.  

The Government’s war against corruption will not be successful if Umno itself has a culture of corruption. The practice of vote buying is political corruption. Umno will not continue to be respected if it does not wipe out corruption within its own ranks. 

The election process in Umno is keenly observed because Umno controls the Government. If people have doubts about the integrity of Umno leaders, then any effort by these leaders to wage war on corruption will not convince anyone. 

Many complaints are made. There are so many stories that have been conveyed to me; there are many stories that reach the people’s ears about wrongdoings by members during the party’s election process. Umno members will find it difficult to deny the existence of political corruption. The investigation process is made even more complicated because there are parties that complain but are not willing to provide the evidence that can prove guilt.  

A corrupt leader will lead Umno to a culture of corruption. A corrupt Umno will not be able to impart good values to the community. The Government’s war on corruption must be spearheaded from within Umno itself. Umno members must feel disgust at corruption and not allow themselves or members of their family to have a single drop of blood in their body that is tainted by gains from corruption. 

Maybe they can hide their corrupt deeds from human eyes, but they cannot hide from the wrath of God. Punishment in this world will allow a wrongdoer to repent, but those who escape the wrath of God in this world will inevitably face it in the hereafter. 

I am determined and committed to cleanse Umno of political corruption. I may be climbing a steep slope, but I will not be deterred nor will I lose faith. As long as there is life in my body, I will seek strength from the Almighty to continue my battle to eliminate corruption. 

Umno members should be prepared not to be elected to any posts rather than resorting to corrupt practices. There can be no pride in winning an election through corrupt means and subsequently accepting money to bribe others.  

Umno must return to the healthy political culture that was held dear by our founding fathers. Umno was built on the values of a struggle for the people and service to the community. 

Umno is not merely a political party – it has to be seen as a Malay institution that is duty bound to fulfil aspirations of a community. 

If Umno is viewed merely as a political party, then Umno members will be more inclined towards competing for positions and power. Technology is used to spread slander. Mercenary writers are paid to attack certain individuals. Destructive suspicions prevail over the spirit of fraternity. Prejudicial stories are quickly absorbed but tales extolling virtue are difficult to accept. 

Fostering the family spirit amongst us can strengthen Umno. We shall seek and accept the best amongst us to lead. We will revive a political culture for people who are free and who are pious, faithful and completely devoted to Allah. 

A healthy political culture will save Umno and strengthen it. It would be impossible to achieve our aim of bringing dignity to our community if Umno is not clean, efficient and trustworthy. Sayyidina Ali reminded us that falsehood can be corrected if an organisation is strong, but truth can be destroyed if the organisation is weak.  

Therefore, the Umno organisational structure should be upgraded at all levels in keeping with Umno’s pole position in the country’s politics. The Umno secretariat – be it at national, state, division or branch levels, or in the separate wings – needs to equip itself with adequate modern systems and skilled and efficient manpower.  

It is the members of Umno who shape and determine the party struggle. They will determine the success and failure of the party, the community and the country. They have to be instilled with the understanding and realisation of what the struggle is and of their duties and responsibilities towards the party. Umno wants to build – at all levels – leaders who are able, spirited, and are tough, pious, decent and effective. 

 

Conclusion 

The nation aims to achieve developed nation status by the year 2020. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we fulfil this vision. When that happens, we would like to see the “Towering Malays” in the forefront of a developed Malaysia.  

We pray that we achieve the objectives of our struggle. It is stated in Surah Al-Faatir: 

Whosoever desires honour, (power and glory), then to Allah belongs all honour, power and glory [(and one can get honour, power and glory by obeying and worshipping Allah (alone)]. To Him ascends (all) goodly words, and the righteous deeds exalt it, but those who plot evils, theirs will be severe torment. And the plotting of such will perish.  

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