FOLLOWING their official opening last night (24 March 2009) by incoming president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the Umno Wanita, Youth, and Puteri assemblies are now in full swing.
Among other things raised in her address this morning, Wanita chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz called on the wing to help ensure success for Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates in the three imminent 7 April by-elections.
“Are we brave enough to say that victory in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selembau will be Wanita’s gift to our new president (Najib)?” she asked delegates, who answered in a resounding affirmative.
“Umno without power is meaningless. Only Umno in power has meaning,” Rafidah added.
Echoing exhortations of unity expressed the night before, she asked the wing to vote for the good of the party, and set aside petty rivalries whatever the outcome of today’s Wanita polls. Rafidah is defending her Wanita chief post against her current deputy, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
In his speech, Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein touched on the evils of “Si Petualang” (traitor), a reference to Umno arch-enemy and opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. He characterised Si Petualang as being “power-crazy” and “willing to deny the rights of his own race”, a manipulator that is “lain di depan, lain di belakang”.
Hishammuddin, who is contesting one of the three vice-president posts in the party elections, reminded delegates to ensure that the wing remained a “pillar of strength for the party”. Harping on the three-way fight between Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Datuk Seri Mohd Khir Toyo and Khairy Jamaluddin for the Youth chief position, Hishammuddin said that “whatever the decision you make today, they will still be valuable Umno assets.”
The outgoing Umno Youth chief was moved to tears at the conclusion of his speech.
Voting for posts in the three Umno wings began at 11am and ended at 1.45pm. The ballots are being counted and results are expected later this evening, at around 9pm.