19 Oktober, 2008

The UMNO Elections


The attention of almost the entire nation is focused these days on the UMNO elections. This is not surprising because UMNO is one of the main parties in Barisan Nasional, and as such the outcome of the UMNO elections affects the leadership of the country.

As the Deputy President of UMNO, I am obviously very much involved in the party elections, not just as a candidate who is offering himself to be nominated for the post of President, but also as one of the party leaders ensuring the smooth running of the electoral process within the party. I am therefore able to observe quite closely the enthusiasm with which many UMNO members embrace the party elections.

During the ‘Pemilihan’ season, UMNO members at all levels spend hours – if not days- speculating on incumbents and challengers, and in doing so ‘camps’ are invariably formed. In campaigning for their candidate of choice, many are caught up in the race to a point that they lose sight of the fact that they are operating within the same ‘family’. It is of course normal for any democratic party to have contests for party positions. Competition is healthy if it takes place in an environment of camaraderie and brotherhood. What is dreaded is the failure of competing factions to close ranks once the competition is over.

As I have said repeatedly in many speeches and meetings, while the UMNO Elections are important, members of UMNO must not be consumed entirely by the process. On the contrary, they must look far beyond it. UMNO members must understand that now more than ever, this election is about the future of the party. It is not just about individuals and certainly it should never be about narrow personal interests. This party election must be about preparing ourselves for the many challenges ahead. Indeed, be it in the political sense, or from the economic and social standpoint, the challenges that stand in our path to the future are numerous and enormous.

To face all this, we must be strong. To be strong we must be united. Therefore we must never let the contests in the party weaken our solidarity no matter how heated the contests become. UMNO members at all levels must be ready to stand together; to roll up their sleeves, and get back to the business of serving the people and the country. We must regain the ground we lost in the last General Elections. The countdown to the next GE began immediately after the last one was over. We have absolutely no time to waste.

For this reason I think it’s important to remind all UMNO members that the party elections is just a small part of the big picture. The real challenge is the work that needs to be done to strengthen the party and the Barisan Nasional coalition.

In fact, this is what should be in the minds of UMNO delegates when choosing the individuals who will occupy positions of leadership at all levels of the party hierarchy. I often say, that when one talks about occupying a certain job or position in any organization, what is important is not just getting that position, but rather, what one will do once that position has been obtained. Taking a job is never just about titles and designations. It is about the work. It is about fully discharging one’s responsibilities and fulfilling one’s obligations.

I am thankful that all the divisions which have held their meetings thus far have placed their trust and confidence in me by nominating me as the next President of UMNO. InshaAllah, when the time comes, with the help of my colleagues in the party and in Barisan Nasional I pledge to carry out my duty to the people and the country to the best of my ability.

For the other positions being contested in UMNO, I hope party members choose wisely and carefully. As I mentioned earlier, the choice they make will determine the future of the party.

I have been asked about my views on the candidates competing for the various posts. I think it’s best for me not to make any comment at this stage. Let the divisions continue with their nominations. And perhaps at a suitable time later, I may share my thoughts in greater detail.

For now, I pray that all the Division meetings across the country will go smoothly. I wish all UMNO members “Selamat Bersidang”.