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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Keynote address by Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Razak at Umno General Assembly

The following is the text of speech by Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the Umno General Assembly 2009, at Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre.

Bismillahirrahmanirrahim Alhamdulillahi Rabbil A-lamin, was-salatu was-salamu ala Rasulillah. Rabbi ish-rah-li sadri wa-yassir-li amri wahlul uq-datan min-lisani yaf-qohu qauli.

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Yang Berbahagia permanent chairman, Yang Berhormat deputy permanent chairman, Yang Amat Berhormat deputy president, vice-presidents, Wanita, Youth and Puteri chiefs, Supreme Council members, leaders of Barisan Nasional component parties, guests of honour, delegates and observers.

First of all I would like to share with you the commandment of Allah SWT in 4th verse of Surah As-Saff:

"Sesungguhnya Allah menyukai orang-orang yang berjuang di jalan-Nya, dalam barisan yang teratur seakan-akan mereka seperti satu ‘bun-ya-nun-marsus’ yakni bangunan yang tersusun kukuh."

And the words of Saidina Ali that:

"Sesuatu yang benar dan hak namun tidak tersusun akan dikalahkan oleh yang batil dan salah, tetapi diatur dengan tersusun."

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. First of all, let us thank Allah SWT for His grace in allowing us to congregate here in this morning.

2. Indeed this Dewan Merdeka has for many decades witnessed many events, bitter and sweet experience, sad and joyful journey, for the much-honoured party, Umno, our party.

3. The assembly this morning is also meaningful with the presence of former president YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

4. This is an example of the undying fighting spirit in the hearts of Umno leaders; which continue to burn, ever willing to be together in pursuing the unfinished struggle. This is the spirit and strength that will allow us to rise and build the splendour of a race which has done a lot of good deeds to this beloved country of ours.

5. We also wish to express our appreciation to YABhg Tun Dr Siti Hasmah for being with us in this assembly. Your presence enlivens the spirit of Umno members from all corners of the country who are witnessing this historical moment.

6. The General Assembly this time around created a history of its own. Firstly, this is historical for me personally as this is my maiden speech as Umno president since taking over the helm last March. I am thankful for the orderly manner in which the power transition took place, staying true to Umno's noble tradition and made possible by YABhg Tun Abdullah Hj Ahmad Badawi.

7. Secondly, the assembly this time around, which takes place just six months from the last one, is also seeing a bold move by Umno to incorporate a major amendment to party constitution, thus proving that Umno is not obsolete, neither it is an outdated party. On the contrary, this amendment clearly shows Umno's determination to become a party that is dynamic, progressive and responsive to current needs.

8. Thirdly, this assembly will be a monumental moment for Umno, which will ink a new chapter in its journey, with new spirit, new approach and new direction.

Ladies and gentlemen,

9. Here we are, in this auspicious morning, in the light of Syawal, celebrating our victories during the fasting month of Ramadan. We should indeed be grateful, and say Alhamdulillah, to God, for our success in defending the Bagan Pinang state constituency with a bigger majority.

10. I would like to thank all, the leaders at all levels for the hard work; and the people, especially the voters, for the victory under the leadership of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the deputy president. The success highlighted the fact that Umno is still the party of choice for the Malays and the people.

11. This is also a clear proof that the local people of various races want to be with the Barisan Nasional. Why, ladies and gentlemen, had they made this choice? It is because Barisan Nasional has proven its capabilities in administering the country; because it is Barisan Nasional which has been fighting for the people all the while.

12. Nevertheless, we should take this victory calmly and with humility. As the saying goes, "One swallow does not make a summer" or its equivalent in Malay, "Janganlah kerana mendengar guruh di langit, air tempayan dicurahkan". We should not easily feel comfortable or relieved that we have become a party which is the people's choice, just because there is no other party that can be relied upon, or in other words, the best among the bad.

13. In Bagan Pinang, we found that non-Malays are accepting Umno with an open heart. In areas where the voters are multiracial, we want Umno to be accepted by the people, as a party that not only struggle for the lot of the Malays and Bumiputeras, but for all the ethnic groups in Malaysia.

14. This is in accordance with the 8th verse of Surah Al-Maidah in which Allah SWT calls upon us to be fair, to uphold the truth for all races, because being fair is being close to taqwa (piety). If we care for the welfare of the people, then the people, irrespective of race or creed, will willingly support and uphold our leadership.

15. In this regard, like it or not, Umno should be more open in its approach. Umno should be chosen based on the principle that it is the best party, either in terms of organisation, machinery, objective or value system. If this has been our recipe of success in Bagan Pinang recently, where we obtain a huge majority, then, I believe that by using the same recipe in other areas, we will enjoy similar or greater success, god willing.

Ladies and gentlemen,

16. History is the best teacher. Time and tide wait for no man. As renowned thinker George Santayana, said: "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." The thing is, historical events should not only serve as a lesson but also as a reminder on how we should manage current realities and chart a better future.

17. It is clear that those who draw the right lesson from history, are able to avoid committing mistakes and engaging in actions that can lead to the downfall of a country or civilisation.
Meaning, to enable us to chart a better future, we should have strong roots, taking in lessons learnt from history and the virtue of our value system. Only then can we be strong in facing the future, having made a thorough preparation consistent to the demand of times. It is for this reason that I choose to theme the speech this morning "Menjunjung Tradisi, Menzahir Perubahan" (Upholding Tradition, Evolving Change).

18. Ladies and gentlemen, if we look back into the past, this year is a significant year not only in terms of the nation's history but also that of Umno's. Around this time 50 years ago, Malaysia began practising parliamentary democracy when the first post-independence general election was held in 1959. Also, around this time, 40 years ago in 1969, Umno led the efforts to save the country from the brink of destruction as the consequences of the racial conflict.

19. Twenty years ago in 1989, Umno also led the efforts to take the country out of recession and start the country's industrialisation process. And, still fresh in minds of the people, about this time 10 years ago in 1999, Umno once again rose to the occasion and pulled the country out of the deepening Asian financial crisis.

20. What is pertinent for us to know is that all these outstanding feats were captained by the leadership of Umno, who showed wisdom, creativity and innovativeness in their thinking. All these are done in the name of the people's interest.

Ladies and gentlemen,

21. In looking back into our nation's history, let us not forget that after the May 13, 1969 tragedy, Umno leaders could have chosen not to restore the suspended parliamentary democracy. Umno could have chosen to form a one-party government or support a military coup d'etat.

22. But we should remember that Umno chose not to do all those; on the contrary Umno had worked fervently to restore democracy within 18 months. This clearly shows that Umno is not power-crazy, and far from being a racist party.

Ladies and gentlemen,

23. In this regard, if we want to know the actual meaning of racist, just look at the history of South Africa, during the era of Apartheid. In the United States, racism was practised openly until in mid-60s. Schools, toilets, sections in restaurants and even seating arrangement in buses, were all segregated according to race.

24. It only ended after the United States Supreme Court ruled against racial segregation in Brown vs Kansas Board of Education, and when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 were formulated.

25. In this historical context, the situation is very much different in Malaysia. The Malays are an all-inclusive and all-encompassing race. If they had been a racist, it would not be possible for Melaka to become a prosperous entreport in the 15th century. - NST

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