(Updated 24 March 2009, 7.50pm)
THE 2008 Umno general assembly officially opens tonight — 24 March — with party president-in-waiting Datuk Seri Najib Razak officiating the launch of the Umno Wanita, Youth and Puteri assemblies. The registration of delegates for the party wings has been going on since morning.
The centre of attention this time around is the party elections, the outcome of which will have crucial implications for Umno itself, the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition, and Malaysians in general.
Last-minute campaigning continues; an enterprising visitor should be able to secure tags, badges, and glamour-shot cards of most of the candidates running for Umno supreme council.
A fixture of the Umno general assembly, which enters its 59th iteration this year and runs for five days, is a bazaar that occupies almost all of the Putra World Trade Centre’s floors, contributing to the already carnivalesque atmosphere. Vendors sell clothing, religious paraphernalia, traditional medication, and even salted fish.
One enterprising individual was spotted surreptitiously purveying copies of former Umno member Zaid Ibrahim’s new book Saya Pun Melayu.