26 March, 2009

He who laughs last, laughs best !

Abdullah Badawi, the supreme leader that Dr Mahathir hammered and Umno openly discarded, may start to have his last laughs.

Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil unseated Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz easily while Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin won the Youth chief’s post, defeating two other strongmen.

Shahrizat got 507 votes compared to Rafidah’s 280.

Khairy obtained 304 votes while former Selangor mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo got 254 and Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir trailed behind with 232.

Party insiders say the results showed that delegates also voted in those aligned to the new chiefs.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has not show up for the opening of the Umno general assembly despite saying earlier he would.

His aide Sufi Yusoff was quoted as saying that he has decided to skip the function.

Mahathir's snub has probably got to do with the defeat of his son, Mukhriz, last night. Despite being regarded as a front runner, Mukhriz finished third in the Umno Youth contest.

He lost to Khairy Jamaluddin and Khir Toyo. Some Mukhriz's supporters took the defeat badly, staging a noisy protest at the PWTC but Mukhriz said he accepted the defeat, saying in all contests, there would be winners and defeats.

Malaysia's longtime ruling party is meeting to select a new crop of leaders after a series of electoral setbacks. But it faces a stiff challenge to reverse a rapid slide in popularity at a time when Malaysia's trade-dependent economy is sinking into recession.

At stake is the stability of a political order that has guided the multiracial country for five decades. The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) leads a coalition government that has delivered economic development but appears unable to tackle increasing racial tensions and calls for greater freedom.

At the four-day convention, which began Tuesday, UMNO officials have hammered a message of reform and renewal in order to win back voters. But a scandal over delegate vote-buying, which led to the disqualification of several candidates, has only added to the public perception of an organization that is mired in graft and out of touch with ordinary voters.

Seizing on this weakness, opponents are turning up the heat on Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is due to replace outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi next week.

Highlight of Abdullah speech :"The Future and Survival of the Party

On need for change

Sadly, there are still those who feel we do not need to pursue reforms. They believe that Umno will regain its glory if we revert to the old ways -- the old order, by restricting the freedom of our citizens and by silencing their criticism. They are of the view that Umno can continue to be in power if they safeguard the interests of certain individuals and give in to the demands of certain groups. Reverting to the old path would only take the party to regression and decay and hasten its demise.

On being leaders for all

Umno should not turn its back on its responsibility towards safeguarding the position of the Malays and the Bumiputras. At the same time, it must never adopt racial and religious positions that are extremist. It must never practice discrimination to the extent that non-Malays view it as a racist party. The rights of all citizens must always be protected, guaranteed and respected.
On Najib

I pledge to give my undivided support to the new President of Umno – to the new Prime Minister of Malaysia. The responsibilities that come with the job are immense. There are times when a decision creates controversy; when a decision will not receive the support of all. Despite any reservations we may have, our leader should be given the trust and stability of mind to allow him to continue to remain rational and objective. If we choose to attack him and assassinate his character, we would be responsible for weakening our party and toppling our leader who sits in the Prime Minister’s chair.

On making mistakes

In my years of public service, there have been times when I have erred. I too had not been able to fulfill all my promises. I acknowledge that the weaknesses and imperfections are my own; and today, I seek your forgiveness for those weaknesses and imperfections. I have tried to carry out my responsibilities with sincerity and honesty.

On the Barisan Nasional formula

We must re-emphasise the formula of power-sharing. Recently, the Malays have begun to feel threatened by demands which are seen to be extreme and unreasonable by non-Malays upholding the Malaysian Malaysia slogan. At the same time, non-Malays – including our friends in the BN – feel compelled to speak out more stridently, feeling themselves marginalized and sidelined as a result of slippage in the implementation of certain government policies. Both parties are harbouring mistrust and doubt. If we allow this to continue, it will erode the spirit of cooperation and destroy the unity that we have built. We must rediscover the cooperation that formed the basis of our national unity.

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