PETALING JAYA — Umno begins its 66th annual general assembly (AGM) on Thursday with renewed spirit and political will and with delegates and members having in mind that this may be the last assembly before the 14th general election, if it is called next year.
With party internal problems considered solved and the leadership in full control, the party moves forward to gain new ground in today’s domestic and international volatile political and economic landscape.
It has not lost ground among its Malay-based supporters and it still continues to attract young members despite problems it faced.
Party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak is expected to push for unity as it moves forward to deal with the changing global economic and political developments that need the country to seek new frontiers and new alignments.
One of the first things on the agenda will be endorsing Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as acting deputy president, who will deliver his maiden speech when he launches the AGM of the party three wings — Women, Youth and Puteri — tonight.
Ahmad Zahid is expected to inject a new spirit into the movements as he has already charted the roles and responsibilities of the wings in the wake of new challenges in the next general election and the changing global political scene.
The Malay-based party has been the final bastion of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as it held on to the “fort” when its partners Chinese-based MCA, multi-racial but Chinese-based Gerakan, Indian-based MIC and other smaller parties were politically slaughtered in the last general election.
It withstood the onslaught from the Opposition when its partners were weak resulting in the present situation where MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other component parties are picking up their pieces and ready to move forward.
Umno is not without problems but the party is now considered united given that it has just emerged from a problem involving deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Datik Seri Shafie Apdal.
With the Opposition — PAS, DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Amanah Negara (Negara) and the new kid on the block Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) — still in disarray, the Umno AGM is expected to further, besides uniting its members, drive a wedge between the Opposition.
Top on the list is the expected talks on political cooperation with PAS, the lone ranger in the opposition that has been sidelined by DAP, the dominant party in the opposition pact.
Umno has not exactly sat down with PAS leaders to talk on such a topic seriously but Malays in general expect the two parties to have some kind of co-operation given the unfriendly environment emerging from DAP’s onslaught on racial and
Delegates who will be debating four major topics — politics, economy, education and religion — are expected to promote political co-operation as they will provide feedback and ideas in their debates.
While economic issues may involve strengthening the Malay-bumiputera economic position, the political co-operation topic will see a new alignment that may take a new outlook altogether.
Thus, Thursday’s Umno assembly may see the party moving into new political frontiers and charting new directions for the Malays and Malaysians alike.