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Mahathir: Najib truly aware of need for change

KUALA LUMPUR, 15 Oct 2009: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today he was convinced that Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak was truly aware of the need for the party to institute change to regain the support of the people.

The former Umno president said Najib’s policy address at the opening of the Umno general assembly today was high-spirited and he had outlined several measures for Umno to endear itself to the people.

“I feel that the emphasis on Umno endearing itself to the people is important because we find that many Umno leaders isolate themselves from the people and use force to gain their support, which is evidently futile,” he told reporters after attending the opening of the 2009 Umno general assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here.

Mahathir and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, were the focus of the media at the assembly, and Najib’s acknowledgement of their presence drew the applause of the delegates.

Former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was absent. Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, when contacted by Bernama, said Abdullah had called him and Najib to say he was indisposed.

Among the guests present were MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Tan Sri Dr George Chan, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, and People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president Datuk M Kayveas.

Mahathir, while acknowledging that two years was a short time for Umno to institute change before the next general election, said he was confident that the change could be carried out.

“The timeframe is short, but I think [change] can be implemented if [Umno members] go to the ground and find out why the people are unhappy,” he said.

Asked whether he was convinced that the proposed Umno constitutional amendments could stem money politics in the party, Mahathir said he hoped that Umno members would not resort to it any more.

“I hope they will stop using money to get places [in the party],” he said.

Mahathir also said that there was no end to political struggle. “If it could not be resolved during my time [as the prime minister], it cannot be resolved at any other time. The struggle is an ongoing one … new challenges, new needs, new environment … all these have to be taken into account,” he said.   

Mahathir said he hoped that Umno would be able to fulfill its promises, because it was not only the members but also the people who were looking out for changes to be made. — Bernama

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