On the right track
Party moving with the times to attract millennials and stay relevant, says Zahid
As Umno celebrates its 71st birthday with a message of solidarity and inclusivity, vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is carrying out duties of deputy president, says the party must move with the times to remain relevant. It must also stay true to its roots.
ZAFIRA ANWAR KUALA LUMPUR firstname.lastname@example.org
UMNO must move with the times or else it will lose out. As such, the party must face reality that there should be rejuvenation among its leaders and its agenda must remain relevant with the people.
Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said party members must realise that emotional or historical attachments were no longer qualities that would attract the younger generation to the party.
He said this was why the government had put a lot of emphasis on coming up with programmes for the future of millennials, via the National Transformation 2050 (TN50).
“Times have changed, and the method of communication has evolved with technology. If Umno holds an event, how many people can we interact with? Possibly between 100,000 and 200,000 people through this type of face-toface communication.
“But if we were to send out our message on social media, we can reach between one and two million users. If Umno doesn’t change with the times, we will collapse.”
Zahid, who is now carrying out the duties of deputy president, was speaking on TV3’s Soal Jawab programme in conjunction with tonight’s Umno’s 71st anniversary celebration at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium here.
He said TN50, which would take place 33 years from now, must be implemented in phases with a bottom-up approach. Organisations must be open to today’s reality, in that the number of Malaysians aged 30 and below had increased from nine to 12 per cent and those below the age of 40 stood at 20 per cent.
On whether he was satisfied with the efforts and initiatives in place to attract youngsters, Zahid said he would not be pleased until Umno, together with Barisan Nasional, wins by a two-third majority in the next general election, adding that it was all about “political return on investment”.
He stressed that although the Umno constitution’s main thrusts were Islam and Malay, the party had not sidelined other religions and ethnicities.
The status of Islam as the religion of the federation, the position of the Malay rulers and Malay as the official language needed to be championed, he added.
“These rights are not merely a social contract, but they are in the highest rule of law. This was even highlighted in an assembly of an Islamic party recently. We cannot compromise on this.”
Zahid, who is also deputy prime minister, said the country’s social structure had been transformed into a diamond shape from its previous pyramid shape, portraying a larger ratio of middle-income earners in Malaysia.
While admitting that not all government initiatives were openly accepted by the public, he believed that Umno was on the right path in providing a harmonious and comfortable country for the majority to live in.
“Even in marketing, there will always be 12 per cent of people who will not accept new products of an establishment. If we listen to the minority and forget about the silent majority, we will fall off track in our struggles.
“Umno is on the right track. I am certain of this as I almost slipped on a banana peel once. Even with challenges, the truth will prevail.”
Zahid said the party’s success could not be achieved without the contributions of its veteran members, adding that they should be allowed to give advice to Umno.
“New members must respect the old members, unless they (veterans) allow themselves to be walked over. So, do protect your good name.”
In conjunction with tonight’s celebration, Zahid called on the public to paint the Bukit Jalil National Stadium red to show their support for the party.
Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on TV3’s ‘Soal Jawab’ at Sri Pentas in Bandar Utama.