Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak has called on Umno members to undertake a complete transformation that is total and tangible in the name of survival of the party.
Addressing the joint opening of Wanita Umno, Umno Youth and Puteri Umno general assemblies at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) yesterday, he said the party would lose the support of the people if it did not change.
• Najib, who is DPM, said the right to choose leaders should be given to the greater number of members to reflect the preferences of more than three million Umno grassroots members. "To my mind, the time has come for us to review the selection of Umno leaders that will be more inclusive of a greater number of Umno members from all levels.
• On the education of political cadres, he said Umno must strengthen the political training and education of its members through well planned courses based on a carefully crafted curriculum which emphasises history, self-confidence and esprit de corps. The modules for such training ought to focus on the strengthening of values aimed at creating honourable leaders.
• The DPM said Umno must win back the hearts and minds of the people to remain relevant. "Whether we like it or not, we must change for the benefit of the people. We must dare to change and abandon negative behaviours in favour of praiseworthy attitudes. "Change from being aloof to being friendly and approachable. Change from always thinking of our self interest to instead putting the interest of the people above our own.
• Najib asked the delegates to pick leaders who were strong and able. "Present to me a team that has the traits of loyalty, integrity, ability and dedication to duty," he said. He said Umno needed a capable team, leaders who dare to make changes and to accept change, and able to criticise and open to criticism. Apart from that, Najib said there was now a perception that the aspirations of Umno were far removed from that of the people.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has appealed to Umno delegates to vote wisely with the interest of party and country in mind. In his 30-minute closed-door session with the 2,500 delegates as a precursor to the general assembly, the Umno president stressed on the important role delegates play as voters in the party elections. Abdullah also said no one should believe that his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would not take over his post.
"No one can stop what we have already decided on. Najib will be the party president and there will be a power transition between me and him," the PM said.
Speculation is rife about Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi resigning as the Penang Chief Minister's chief of staff. Ooi, when contacted in Parliament yesterday, did not deny or confirm the speculation. A Chinese daily had reported that one factor leading to the decision was Ooi's inability to see eye to eye with the state's top leadership over several issues. One of them was Ooi's disappointment over local council elections, which had yet to materialise.
The report also said Ooi felt the state government had not done enough on the matter. Ooi was said to also have a different view on the state government's move to bar an English daily from covering the state's official functions.