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Friday, November 9, 2007

Azimi: Don't set agenda for us

The Sun (7/11/2007): Leaders from other Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties should not set agendas on what Umno delegates should debate on in the party’s annual general assembly, said Umno Youth information chief Datuk Azimi Daim.

Citing a television station which had interviewed several non-Malay Barisan Nasional (BN) component party leaders, he said Umno had never set an agenda as to what should they say in their conventions.

Debating in the assembly today as a representative of the wing, Azimi, who was slapped with a warning by the party’s management committee for making extreme remarks in last year’s assembly, said: “It’s good enough that we did not give them guidelines (in their general assemblies).”

At last year's assembly, he was reported as saying “when tension rises, the blood of Malay warriors will run in veins”.

Azimi started his speech today by saying he would be cautious of his tone this time around after receiving the warning last year.

However, he defended his speech last year, saying it was exaggerated by “certain parties”.

“At the grassroots level, we have never fought. It’s just some leaders who want to be a hero of their own community who exaggerated the fact (of my speech). As a leader of the wing, our responsibility is to tell the truth and the aspiration of the people,” he said, to thunderous applause from the floor.

The Bandar Baru (Kedah) state assemblyman said the country has been stable because Umno had shared its political power with minority ethnic groups.
“No country in this world which is led by the majority race will also give positions and power to the minority race,” he said.

He also defended the move to wave the keris in the wing’s assembly by its chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

“Never in history has the keris eaten anyone,” he said.

At one juncture, acting speaker Badruddin Amiruldin reminded Azimi that his allocated time of 15 minutes was running out, Azimi quickly appealed to him: “Give me more time, I will help you to campaign in the coming election.”

Without hesitation, Badruddin replied cheekily and to loud guffaws from the crowd: “Teruskan (continue)."

On another matter, Azimi brought the floor's attention to the bottled water distributed to the delegates, with the brand TaHa (which Badruddin said referred to Tabung Haji), saying that it was manufactured by Chuan Sin Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Spritzer Bhd.

He questioned why bottled water distributed by a Tabung Haji subsidiary could not be manufactured by a Bumiputra company, saying that if need be, he was willing to do the job.

Negeri Sembilan delegate Datuk Ismail Lasim drew attention to the fact that 90% of the 1.5 million qualified voters who had yet to register were Malays.

"We have to look at this matter seriously, especially within Umno, as this shows the young people are not concerned about the election," he said

'Abandon subsidy mentality, change ideology for benefit of country'

Malaysians – the Malays and non-Malays alike – should abandon the subsidy mentality and change their ideology to work for the benefit of the country, said Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

The Terengganu delegate, who moved the resolution on the president’s policy speech at the Umno general assembly, said the government spends RM40 billion a year to subsidise fuel and gas.

“If the amount is spent over five years, it would amount to RM200 billion which is the the 9th Malaysia Plan budget. We have to be ready to make changes, even if it takes 50 years. Little by little, we have to rid the culture and mentality of (depending on) subsidy, so the money (saved) can be used for better benefits,” he said.

Relating this to the economy, he said subsidies weigh down Malaysia’s potential to bloom economically.

Comparing Malaysia’s position in the region, he said China, India and Vietnam were moving up the rungs (of economic power) quickly and if Malaysia stuck to its old policies and strategies, she would be left behind.

“China is the fourth biggest economy and is expected to be third next year and be on top in 2050. We’re ahead of Thailand and Indonesia but the gap is fast closing and we have to pick up in our competition – do away with bureaucracy,” he added.

Ahmad Shabery received loud cheers and applause for his proposal to terminate all agreements with utility companies like Tenaga Nasional Bhd and independent power plants as well as highway concessionaires for toll.

“I have heard whispers from the people for Pak Lah (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) to review the agreements and remove them in the spirit of patriotism and Umno will support this.

“When electricity is cheap, we will attract foreign investors and this helps the country to be motivated to compete at all levels,” he said.

Ahmad and acting Permanent President Datuk Badruddin Amiruldin had the 2,523 delegates in stitches several times when the latter started reminding Ahmad of his 30-minute time limit.

“YB! Vertigo!” said Amiruddin, when Ahmad was talking about political leaders suffering from vertigo (a fear of height), cheekily referring to their being afraid of looking down from their positions of authority.

Ahmad Shabery made the reference to vertigo, when commending the open concept that the premier had practiced, as reflected in the Anti-Corruption Agency arresting wrong-doers shortly after the Auditor-General’s report was published.

Likening media coverage to a beauty pageant, he said, the media should look at the goodness of Umno candidates instead of just highlighting the negative aspects.

“When the media writes about negative issues, it is like they’re looking at the (bulges) in the bikini competition. The bikini comes after the parade, after the questioning when the candidates are judged not just on their physique but on their brains, when they undergo the question and answer session,” Ahmad added.

'Malays have changed in terms of values, thinking and attitude'

Selangor representative Datuk Ahamd Kuris Mohd Nor laments that the Malays have changed in terms of values, thinking and attitude, causing some of them to lose the passion to fight for Umno’s cause.

He said the Malay community should understand that what they have today is a result of Umno’s efffort and there is no other party they should support except Umno.

“We even receive support from other parties as this is the best formula to achieve the objectives of Vision 2020. We must find out why some Malays refused to support Umno and drastic action must be taken to overcome this problem,” he said.

Ahmad Kuris said although the New Economic Policy has closed the wealth gap between the Malay and Chinese communities, the Malays are still far behind in certain areas.

Wanita Umno representative Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim called for the enactment of a law to administer religions, other than Islam, and for regulations to be created to control the indiscriminate building of places of worship at all sorts of places, including under tree and beside the road.

During the debate on the Umno president’s policy speech, she said to defend Islam, it is crucial to amend Article 3 of the Federal Constitution to make Islam the official religion of the country by adding the word “official” to the clause, instead of just religion of the Federation.

“The amendment will stop people from questioning whether Islam is the official religion of the country,” she said, adding that there is a need for an Act to prevent non-Muslims from converting Muslims to other religions.

She said under the Federal Constitution, Article 11(4) prohibits Muslims from converting to other religions.

To strengthen the people’s unity, Kamilia said the wing proposed that the government draft an Act to help strengthen racial unity.

She said although some might say the Act would not by itself unite the people, it will help to ensure that whatever efforts by the government in this area will be better managed.


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