Facing the demand for change

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 14 Oct 2009

Text of Umno Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin’s speech at the simultaneous launch of Wanita, Youth and Puteri Umno delegates conference 2009 at Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre, 8pm, Oct 13, 2009.

ALHAMDULIILLAH, let us extend our gratitude to Allah s.w.t. because with his blessings we are gathered at Dewan Merdeka again tonight for the simultaneous launch of Wanita, Youth and Puteri Umno delegates conference 2009.

I stand here in front of you with pride in Umno’s big win in the Bagan Pinang by-election. Congratulations and well done to all Umno and Barisan Nasional supporters, who have contributed towards our victory. Kalau tidak pohon berangan Tidak puyuh ke Tasik Chini Kalau tidak kerana perjuangan Tidak kita berkumpul di sini.

> The New Spirit of Umno

Our meeting this time is meaningful for Umno, which is helming the times. Umno has just gone through a significant change in the history of its leadership. For the first time we are witnessing new leadership at all levels – from president, deputy president, vice-presidents, Wanita Umno, Umno Youth and Puteri chiefs. I extend my congratulations to Umno’s new leadership, particularly the Wanita, Youth and Puteri leaders who are here tonight. What’s interesting is that both the president and I are products of Umno Youth. The three vice-presidents were also from the movement. The Wanita Umno chief came out of the process of maturity and leadership within the movement. Similarly, the Youth and Puteri chiefs were groomed by the leadership in both wings. I am really proud that before me tonight is the party’s leadership line-up that will determine the destiny and future of the religion, the race and the country.

You are actually representing the new spirit of Umno in facing challenges and demands for changes in the midst of the country’s new political landscape. The new spirit that represents the voice of the Malays, Bumiputra and Malaysians; the new spirit that is developed with the idealism of struggles and loyalty of party members; the new spirit that is willing and bold to make changes. This is the new wave of change in Umno.

I am confident that Umno wants to change. Umno has begun to change. And Umno will continue to make changes for good. As a party which is born out of the voice of the Malays and gains support from the people, Umno will certainly make changes to achieve benefits. Umno is not a static, outdated and stagnant party in a fast-changing world. History has proven that Umno is a party which is always generating strength, adapting to changes and creating pools of second-echelon leaders as part of its rejuvenation process. Yang patah pasti tumbuh, yang hilang akan berganti. (A Malay proverb which describes the cycle of life; a broken branch will grow back).

This is what really makes Umno a dynamic party, changing according to the times, and adapting according to the needs and demands of the times. We are aware that if we are not willing to change, we will be changed. Umno views seriously demands towards this transformation, because the process of rejuvenation is the key to Umno’s strength in facing current and future challenges. A major task for all Umno members is to prove that we are willing to make changes and to ensure that Umno remains relevant. Changes and relevance – both are inter-linked, like the body and soul, like bamboo and the riverbank, which support and strengthen each other. It is meaningless if we are only able to change but do not make Umno relevant with the times. Thus Umno needs to become relevant in understanding the voice, language, style and nuances of the new politics. Umno should become relevant in a borderless world, and in the midst of the ascendancy of technology and knowledge. Umno should remain relevant by representing the voice of the Malays, Bumiputra and the people.

> Facing Challenges

Our party is currently being tested with tough challenges and opposition. What is termed a political tsunami during the 2008 General Election has created a calamity in the form of trauma, a scar which still remains in our heart. Most people have yet to recover from this trauma.

In this critical moment, we seem to be standing on the edge of a cliff. In front of us is a deep ravine, and behind us steep mountains stand tall. When we are faced with such a scenario, we have no choice. If we walk to the edge, we may fall into the ravine and lie there forever. We are at the crossroads in a time of madness.

The description of a time of madness can be felt today when the people are fed with slander and lies until confusion and falsehoods become the norm. Rumours, provocation, false stories, sensational reports were purposely created to stir up hatred. Society finds it hard to differentiate between the truth and the misleading statements. In the end, the truth becomes false and falsehoods become the truth. The just become the cruel, those who are cruel become the fair. These are the results of the hands of those who destroy in the name of freedom, fairness, justice and in the name of the religion. The end justifies the means, although at stake are the race and the country. Allah s.w.t. commanded in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 11-12:

“And when it is said to them: ‘Make not mischief on the earth,’ they say: ‘We are only peacemakers.’ Verily! They are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not.”

Those who carry out destruction and damage become proud and arrogant when God tests them by giving them a little power. And so they march to the streets to show off their power, they challenge the voice of democracy claiming that the people’s power is behind them, they vilify the judiciary who they say are puppets of the rulers. They lambast the police for trying to control their power, and they even oppose the Elections Commission when results do not side with them. They neglect Allah’s reminder to avoid disunity and division, they neglect His call to stop slander and insults between men. They don’t feel guilty when they speak about justice and Islam, but at the same time they continue to demolish their Islamic values. In that sense, understand this reminder by Islamic historian Abn Khaldun in his work called Muqaddimah. Throughout history, the demise of a race begins with the spread of self-interest and the decline of unity among the successive generations. They forget that the prosperity that they enjoy are the result of the struggle, sacrifices, and unity of the previous generation who worked towards the betterment of the spirit and dignity of their race. Disputes and quarrels among themselves become common when lust for power and property is king. When this attitude becomes widespread and can no longer be controlled, the race will disappear.

When we are faced with this kind of problem, we need to pause and reflect among ourselves, correct our steps and strengthen our resolve to reach the summit. We must learn from past experiences and self-correct. With history and tradition on our side we must strengthen our confidence. With spirit and commitment we move forward, fortified by our sworn allegiance to the party’s origins to protect the religion, the race and the country. Time goes on and leaders come and go. However, we must fulfil our loyalty to Umno’s struggle to protect the religion, the race and the country for the sake of the people’s prosperity.

The tradition of our struggle to defend the race has not ceased, although we have to struggle in the currents of a democratic political system. We realise that democracy does not recognise the record of achievements and history of past leaders. A party which is powerful and has contributed tremendously can collapse if it is no longer accepted by the people.

The history of independent parties in countries in the region has served as a lesson for us to reflect on. The Golkar party in Indonesia is no longer as strong as before. The Nacionalista Party in the Philippines has long been toppled. The most recent is the collapse of the Liberal Democratic Party in Japan, which has contributed tremendously towards the reconstruction of the country after the Second World War. What caused the defeat of these parties? Did the people forget their contributions towards development, progress and harmony of their respective countries? Were the needs and aspirations of the people different than that offered by these parties? Or did these parties become too proud and their leaders too greedy because they have been in power for too long?

It cannot be denied that Umno’s struggles have achieved a major socio-economic transformation among the Malays and Malaysians in general, resulting in the emergence of a new middle-class generation with new idealism and demands. Umno leaders were always ready to offer themselves to the people. The question is whether Umno is ready to fulfil the current aspirations of the people, which are greater than in the past when Umno was established.

I am confident and still believe that like the Congress Party of India and the Kuomintang Party of Taiwan which had been defeated, but which were revived with a new political image, Umno and BN will also repeat their glory. Umno is capable of facing these challenges and fulfilling the new aspirations. This is because Umno is pragmatic, quick in assessing the situation, and bold in making changes.

> Path of Change

Alhamdulillah, despite the failure to maintain a two-thirds majority in Parliament and losing a few states, Umno and BN continue to govern the country. All that had happened should not dampen our fighting spirit. We have gone through a few tragic episodes and experienced several rises and falls. However, every time we go through such experiences, we become stronger and we never say quit.

Hence, ladies and gentlemen, let us quickly rise and close the ranks amongst us, beginning with wahdatul fikr or unity of the minds, comprehended by wahdatul qalb or unity of the hearts, move with wahdatul amal or unity in charity towards achieving wahdatul hadaf (unity in objectives), so that change may be achieved to meet the party’s struggle. Allah’s command in Surah Al-Shof, Verse 4: Indeed Allah loves; He assists and honours those who fight in His way arrayed in ranks, as though they were a building cemented with molten lead.

This intimation from Allah reminds us always to be a strong party that moves together as if in one breath, loyal in bearing trust, ready to follow orders and put the party’s struggle above one’s interest. Therefore, let us carry out the president’s message that no one among us will become an instigator and traitor like Si Kitol. We should no longer be divided from within, there should be no more Team A - Team B like before, no more movements or attempts to bring down a leader and the culture of issuing threats should cease. There should not be a power struggle that will leave the party in ruins. There should only be one platform, one team, One Umno!

We can do all this by adopting the four pillars which I mentioned just now. With the unity of minds, Umno will have a clear vision of its struggle. With the unity of hearts, each and everyone of us will comprehend in full the true meaning of Umno’s struggle. With unity in charity we will move and act on a single track and as a team. With unity in objectives cemented, we can achieve the purpose of our struggle for religion, race and the country.

> Unity of minds

The first step towards changes and renewal is the unity of minds, to enable us to understand and appreciate the rakyat’s and the Malay’s aspirations. We need to free our minds and attitude from the “shackles of mouldy, skewed and narrow thoughts” that deviate from our true struggle. We must accept the fact that the country’s political landscape has changed, even the value and political culture of the Malays have changed.

We need to generate new thinking on democracy that encompasses the concept of empowerment, participatory policies and good governance. The new thinking needs to be built and consolidated without sacrificing the true aim of Umno’s struggle. Our struggle for the sake of the religion, the race and the country remains relevant. We need not be apologetic about this. However, where political thinking has undergone changes, there is a need to relay and explain (our struggle) more clearly and vigorously.

> Unity of hearts

With our hearts united, we can appreciate and understand the value of “sincere politics” which the people look up to. The rakyat and the Malays today have high regard for leaders who serve sincerely; one who puts the rakyat’s interest before his own; keeps to his promises, is transparent, fair, honest and responsible in his actions; and one who understands the pulse of the people. I am confident that Umno will always be close to the rakyat’s hearts if we adopt these good values.

When we serve, make sure that the service and assistance that are extended to the people touch their heart. We must always be united in serving those who are in real need. We must always uphold Umno’s aspirations of helping the rakyat irrespective of status and social standing.

We must always be ready to serve the people irrespective of time and place.

The key to providing service that touches the rakyats’ hearts is to serve with sincerity. If we serve with determination and with full sincerity, it will reflect on us. The community can evaluate each service or assistance that is extended to them. No matter how small the contribution, if it is given sincerely, it will surely be appreciated. As Rasulullah s.a.w. said: “The charity of an act depends on its intention and one will reap what is intended.”

> Unity in charity

By strengthening unity in charity, we can draw and implement an approach that will be people-friendly to win and capture their hearts and feelings, especially the young.

We need to put forward a more effective mode of political communication to get us closer to the rakyat. The new mode that we have already been using is the new media and basic interactive social networks. We must use this mode to our benefit, not only to interact but to put forward idealism, consideration, values, culture and a new soul of Umno.

Programmes to get closer to the community must be stepped up in order for us to truly feel the pulse of the people. Be the eyes, ears and inner voice of the community. Understand their problems and assist them to find solutions. Always go to the ground so that our presence is felt, and so we are approachable. Spend time with the community and be ever ready to help. This is the translation of the tradition our struggle in defending the people.

Thus, we must strengthen the basis of Umno, that is its members and organisation. These two political elements must be strengthened and put in a ready mode to uphold our struggle. We equipped Umno members with sound knowledge and political skills through education and lifelong training. Through this political education, we ensure Umno members truly understand the meaning of Umno’s struggle and become true Umno champions.

We have prepared Umno to spearhead the wave of change. The amendments to the constitution that are to be tabled tomorrow will pave the way for a transformation in Umno’s governance towards becoming more democratic and inclusive. The party’s rejuvenation process through the participation of more youth and women leaders at all levels will inject more energy and freshness into our struggle. Umno is a party from the people, by the people and for the people.

> Unity in objectives

By strengthening the unity of objectives, we make migration of the soul and attitude a success. We create party fighters who are strong in their faith in Allah s.w.t, intact in their morals and ethics, who emphasise relations among the people and understand current realities. InsyaAllah, through this migration, what is reflected in the personality of our party fighters will be such praiseworthy attributes as those possessed by the Prophet Mohammad s.a.w. Our party fighters will always be bold in stating the truth (siddiq), not lies, always trustworthy, not dishonest, often delivering truthful messages (tabligh), not concealing them, and always thinking intelligently, not stupidly.

It is only right that we make this migration of the soul and attitude by observing a similar spirit noted by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. The Prophet was faced with a very tough challenge before migrating to Medina. He was insulted, humiliated, scorned, scolded and hurt by the ignorant Arabs. However, his perseverance in enduring the bitter struggles based on a strong faith marked the point of major change in the history of the Islamic revival. Islam, which was initially not well received by the ignorant Arab community, reached Medina and later spread all over the world.

I would like to call on all Umno members to chart the direction of change through the unity of thought; understand the sincerity of party struggles through the unity of hearts; reach out to the people through the unity of practice; and move in unison to achieve the party’s glory through the unity of objectives. If we can understand and implement these four pillars, we can surely create a generation of distinguished leaders who are strong in their faith, sharp in their knowledge and blessed in their struggles. > The Role of Wanita, Youth and Puteri I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be with you today. I am confident that in front of me are the heroes of Umno who will go through waves of change. These three wings are the main force that will generate Malay leaders who are strong, fast, bold and possess a robust spirit in shouldering the struggles of the race, religion and nation.

Wanita Umno will always stand solidly in every episode of the party struggle. Its members are the driving force of the party, who are always loyal to its struggles and willing to be on the ground at all times when their energy and dedication are required. I would like to extend my congratulations to Wanita Umno.

We hope that Wanita Umno under the leadership of Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil will continue to remain strong and reflect our efforts to uphold the dignity of women in the country. Hence, it is our hope that more leaders of the movement will be involved actively in the decision-making process of the party, either through the movement or the supreme council. Let our party become an example of an institution which is truly serious in appreciating and recognising contributions of women towards the development of the race and the country.

The same is also true of Umno Youth. The strong fighting spirit which was born during the series of by-elections, is proof that the movement still has the soul to uphold the true struggles of the party. Congratulations, Umno Youth. Puteri Umno, meanwhile, is always loyal towards the party even when they are in the thick of things within the opposition stronghold. Congratulations, Puteri Umno. These two Umno wings — Umno Youth and Puteri — are right in the frontline of the party and reflect the party’s future aspirations. The huge responsibilities facing the Youth and Puteri movements under Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, are to regain the support of the young through the rejuvenating process of the party’s idealism.

The young generation of today is one which places priority on intellectual discourse and not on raw emotions. In this context, there is no short-cuts for us when we are trying to appeal to the younger generation, except by convincing them of the basis of our struggle with a concerted and rational approach. For this, the Youth and Puteri movements must become the platforms for young Malay leaders who are eloquent and alert to present the image of Umno’s struggle.

Today, although we have started to see the revival of the spirit of Wanita, Youth and Puteri to strengthen the party struggles, it needs to be further reinforced. Wanita, Youth and Puteri must move forward as a strong and united team to shoulder the thrust of party struggles.

Be true to your principles, be united, strengthen your commitment, move as one force towards one goal. Avoid being bedazzled by jewellery and gold, which can weaken the fighting spirit, move away from power struggles that are destructive, and be good representatives of the people.

You have contributed towards the party and the Malays, by always being in the front rows to carry the party flag. All these are not sufficient if the people have not reaped any benefit. The 12th General Election has proven that the younger generation has yet to appreciate fully Umno’s struggles. Umno is also not seen as fulfilling the aspirations of the new generation with fresh thinking. Umno is seen as an exclusive party, which is becoming distant from the masses. Party activities to woo new members and voters seem lethargic. These are among examples of the challenges that we need to overcome.

Despite these, I am confident the leadership of the three wings that we have today are able to meet the challenges. So let us consolidate our potential, polish our self-esteem, upgrade our knowledge, master skills, utilise our intelligence and strengthen the quality of our leadership so that Umno can come back as the face of the Malay struggle besides giving hope to all levels of society. To ensure Umno regains its position as a party which brings renewed hope, I am inviting the three wings to fix their respective Key Perfor- mance Indexes or Political Key Performance Indicators on increasing the party’s membership, register new voters and form networks with non-governmental organisations. I am giving you two years to achieve these targets. We do not have time; the effort must begin now.

> Driving Changes

Umno under the direction of the president has begun making significant changes to win over the hearts and minds of the rakyat. We have taken serious steps to conduct a new evaluation of the approach and concept on reaching out to the rakyat. We have also made the demands, aspirations and requirements of the rakyat the basis of our commitment. Priority is placed on the people. The people come first.

In view of this, our inspiration and new direction must be digested and expanded speedily to become a bigger wave which can propel our party’s struggle towards the pinnacle of success and excellence. Having said that, I also want to stress that it is not only Umno that needs to change. Barisan Nasional component parties must also change.

We must be ready to conceive of a deeper transformation to reach new levels of cooperation in relations between parties in Barisan. The new cooperation must be based on the spirit of acceptance between all races and an appreciation of our diversity as the source of our strength. This was outlined by our president under the “1Malaysia” concept.

The echo of this call for change and rejuvenation must be accepted speedily and with a strong heart filled with the fire of our struggle. Become party supporters who are united, loyal and obedient.

Become true leaders with high integrity, with a clean heart and soul, fearless in facing challenges and steadfast in spurring changes as reflected in this Malay saying:

Syarak (Islamic law) is worn physically and spiritually

His faith is thick, custom is strong

His piety is visible, his knowledge is boundless

His heart is open and he is far-thinking With a face that is clear and a tongue that is eloquent

Strong in conviction and proper in manner

A stand made will remained unchanged

A word spoken will not be changed

He is brave in facing tests

His loyalty is unquestionable

His obedience can be folded

Comprehend Allah’s teaching about the steadfast faith of the al-Kahfi youths who, because of their courage, were given extra guidance by God almighty.

“We relate to you (oh Muhammad) their story with truth. They were some young men who believed in their Lord and We increased them in guidance. (al-Kahf: 13)

> Appreciation of our president I would like to register my most sincere thanks to our president for his support and trust in me to carry out the duty and responsibility as deputy president. My commitment is to assist the president in going through the path of change which has been outlined.

When he was the deputy president, he demonstrated high benchmarks. It is not easy for me to achieve the benchmarks without the support of the president and all of you. Our president has also spearheaded changes and renewal in the government, and Alhamdulillah, they have been well accepted by the rakyat.

Our victory in the Bagan Pinang by-election is a testimony of the rakyat’s support for Umno. As Umno members, we must all respond to the spirit of change initiated by the president in the government and the party. Believe me, changes in party leadership, readiness to amend the constitution and the strong spirit displayed by the heads of the three movements is a clear sign that Umno is heading towards an era of exellence again.

From the faces of everyone in the hall tonight, there is hope for Umno to rise again, more readily and strongly. Let us bind our hearts, and strengthen our resolve and commitment to fire our fighting spirit and struggle.

Let us close ranks, initiate a unity of minds, bind the unity of hearts, implement unity in charity to achieve unity in aims. Let us ensure success in this aspiration. The future of our religion, race and beloved country is in our hands. Let us implement this under one commitment so that Umno will continue to be relevant. Let us shoulder the demand for change.

I hereby open the Umno Wanita, Youth and Puteri annual general assembly 2009.

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