On the right track

Party mov­ing with the times to at­tract mil­len­ni­als and stay rel­e­vant, says Zahid

New Straits Times - - Front Page -

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 news@nst.com.my

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.

PIC BY FARIZ ISWADI IS­MAIL

Umno vice-pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Dr Ah­mad Zahid Hamidi on TV3’s ‘Soal Jawab’ at Sri Pen­tas in Ban­dar Utama.

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