Shameless Malaysian Government Fraud Goes Global

By Azeem Ibrahim

From the Huffington Post, February 28, 2013

Last week, a civil suit was filed at the High Court of Malaysia by a number of very disgruntled investors. They are alleging that Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd solicited their investments based on false invoices and fraudulent documents and have misappropriated funds of about $4 million. [SEE ALSO HERE]

When their support was solicited in 2008 and 2009, the investors considered that Malaysia was an emerging, secure and accountable business system and assumed that they would gain an honest return on their investment. Today however, after several years of fighting to get their funds returned, they have met with nothing but delays.

The whole affair raises serious questions whether investigation is being stalled by people in high places. This is certainly a matter which would merit investigation by the MACC and by any government concerned in its commitment to battle corruption.

The investors have had many meetings with Malaysian politicians and ministers in London and Malaysia — including Prime Minister Najib a day after he announced Part 1 of his New Economic Model which included promoting inward investment.

British political leaders are taking up the issue on behalf of these British citizens and in spite of countless reassurances that Malaysian justice can be relied upon, there has still been no definitive action from the Malaysian government.

Dato’ Seri Abdul Azim Bin Mohd ZabidiThe original funds were invested in Doxport Technologies Sdn Bhd whose chairman and director is the influential Dato Seri Abdul Azim Bin Mohd Zabidi, former treasurer of the main UNMO political ruling party. The other director of Doxport Technologies is Sivalingam Thechinamoorthy, who is allegedly one of the ‘frontmen’ for many of Dato Abdul Azim’s deals, with Thechinamoorthy’s wife, Gurmeet Kaur, playing a pivotal role as well.

This is by no means the first hint of corruption within Malaysia’s political elite, despite Malaysia’s high-profile anti-corruption crusade. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government professes to be taking a lead in weeding out graft but the perception is growing that corruption under the Najib administration is flourishing.

For example, the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International reported recently that Malaysia scored worst in the world in the 2012 Bribe Payers Survey.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) began its operation officially on January 1, 2009 and according to the official website of International Association of Anti Corruption Authorities, “had focused on investigating cases involving illegal mining and sand smuggling, illegal logging, corruption at the country’s entry points as well as distribution of diesel subsidy.” An impression is given of a corrupt government hounding the small offenders and ignoring the more important cases of pervasive graft.

Abuse continues in government procurement and scandals such as the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Project, not to mention the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) described by Transparency International as “a black mark on the country’s history.” Another example is the Bakun Dam in Sarawak which was included in Transparency International’s ‘Monuments of corruption’ Global Corruption Report in 2005. The mandate to develop the project went to a timber contractor and a friend of Sarawak’s governor. The construction of the dam was found to be faulty and the provincial government of Sarawak is still looking for customers to consume the power to be generated by the project.

However, rather than living up to its promises, the government continues to deal with corruption by shameless blame shifting and paper shuffling. The delay in fully investigating the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud case is yet another egregious example of justice delayed and therefore justice denied. This will not rest here however, as the British victims of the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud are moving their case to a higher level.

British investors have received the support of many of their Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, many of whom have sent letters:

• 9 have written to date, to the Malaysian Prime Minister — no reply has ever been received
• 6 have written to date, to the Malaysian High Commissioner in the UK — no reply has ever been received
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Attorney General — no reply has been received to date
• 3 have written to date, to the Malaysian Minister of Law — no reply has been received to date

However, letters to the British Foreign Secretary have ensured that the British Government is aware and active in the case and that the Doxport Technologies alleged fraud will have major repercussions.

The persistent corruption in Malaysia is destroying the country’s international reputation as a safe and equitable environment for investment and is doing immense disservice and harm to its people. Whistleblowers in Malaysia have not had a fair hearing over the years with ominous reports for example of people falling to their death following interrogation by authorities.

Opposition politicians find themselves facing trumped up charges if their accusations get too close to the truth and Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and currently the de facto leader of Keadilan, the People’s Justice Party, has already spent a number of years imprisoned for his courageous stand against government corruption.

Tackling fraud will be Anwar Ibrahim’s top priority if elected when the country goes to the ballot. Prime Minister Najib Razak must dissolve parliament by April 28th and hold the election within 60 days, but a nervous leadership is delaying the announcement to the last possible moment and is bringing the democratic process of free and fair elections into question.

Fraud and corruption in Malaysia have reached a shameless new level and might be seen as the dying efforts of a government on its way out. Certainly the people of Malaysia deserve better if trust is to be reestablished in Malaysia as an international player in global economics. Respect for the law must begin at the top. If Doxport Technologies and its directors cannot be made accountable, hopefully the government of Malaysia will receive a just verdict of defeat in the imminent election and democratic justice will prevail.

Dr Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of The Scotland Institute and a Fellow and Member of the Board of Directors at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

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Pride comes before Destruction

January 22, 2013

Pride comes before Destruction

by Mariam Mokhtar (01-21-13)@

According to one Sabahan, there is so much crime in Sabah that squatter houses, too, have grilles on the doors and windows, and that these cost more than the houses themselves.

For four decades, ordinary Sahabans have been angered by illegal immigration and the social and economic problems associated with it, such as a shortage of housing, a lack of employment and educational opportunities, high levels of crime and massive overcrowding.

Despite the limited terms of reference of the Royal Commission of  Inquiry (RCI) ordered by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the RCI has revealed disturbing aspects of former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s bid to remain in power. Soon, the RCI will be overshadowed by the side-show that Mahathir may have helped arrange.

NONEThe star-performer is the self-styled motivational guru Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin (right). One wonders if Zohra has replaced the virgin queen, Ummi Hafilda Ali, who used to come to Mahathir’s aid and helped distract the rakyat with golden showers and salacious revelations.

There was once a time when the government would detain reporters and send them to Kamunting, ostensibly for their own safety. Zohra was denied this privilege because Najib has abolished the ISA. Last week, Zohra bowed to overwhelming pressure and heeded Police advice to cancel her seminar on ‘How to Make Your First Million’.

I can give you the gist of the RM200 per person seminar. It is an open secret that the first million is easy to make; join UMNO, then claw your way to the top by backstabbing and badmouthing everyone who stands in your way.

There are tell-tale signs that that you have “made it” and joined the UMNO elite. In the election canvassing that takes place every five years, UMNO delivers bags of rice to the masses, but the UMNO elite receive Birkin bags.

Households that qualify are given a one-off payment of RM500 (and possibly another RM500 if the situation demands it) but the elite get several million ringgit in hard cash, stuffed in suitcases.

The poor may get a discount on their smartphones, but the elite are given the contracts to sell the phones.  The rakyat may be given tins of powdered milk as freebies during canvassing, but elite members are given millions of ringgit to buy a few cows and many luxury condominiums.

Zohra has not much in humility

A video of the shameful conduct of Zohra emerged a month after the incident. Despite the public opprobrium which she received, Zohra showed everyone that she is miskin by name and miskin (poor) by nature.

She lacks the intellect to reflect on her poor behaviour. She did not have much in the way of humility. She displayed an inferior understanding of people’s feelings and she was a poor communicator.

Instead of eating the humble pie, she has become more arrogant and haughty. Instead of acknowledging that she was tactless and rude, Zohra issued a statement from her hiding place, in which she declined to apologise but “forgave” KS Bawani, the student who suffered Zohra’s acid tongue.

This incident should have been a temporary frenzy and yes, we are angry because it is obvious that Zohra’s behaviour is unacceptable. Some UMNO leaders and members of the BN coalition have distanced themselves from her, but it appears that Zohra is determined to prolong this crisis into a full blown affair.

The reason must be to take our attention away from Mahathir’s alleged crimes in the Sabah votes for citizenship fiasco.  Just a few months ago, Najib outlined the terms of reference for the Sabah RCI. Many have criticised the RCI for its limited scope and because its findings will not be revealed before GE13.

NONEIf the RCI proves that UMNO won elections by fraud and cheating, it brings into doubt the legitimacy of this and previous UMNO-BN governments. By cheating, UMNO has disenfranchised the people of Malaysia and forced us to wait until GE13 to gain our choice of ruling party.

Proof of fraud and cheating will confirm that UMNO-BN should not be the current government. Will the RCI be another whitewash or will its members seek to save their own skins, by leaving the sinking UMNO ship?

As the extent of Mahathir’s Project IC is slowly being revealed, the importance of this RCI is increasing.

Mahathir won’t go without a fight

Just as Mahathir thought he had undermined Najib, his hopes were damned. So he tried to deflect some of the rakyat’s abhorrence of Project IC, by tarnishing the name of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence.

Will the RCI bring about the fall of Mahathir? No. He may have cut a pathetic figure recently but he will not go without a fight. Although the rakyat have a strong case against him, Mahathir has too many people in his pockets. They owe their success to him and he will call in his favours.

The rakyat is leading the Opposition fight to topple the Mahathir regime, but their wish will not be fulfilled, just yet.

Both Najib and Mahathir are locked in a deadly battle. Najib cannot bring about Mahathir’s fall, because to do so would bring the fight right to his front door. He, like Mahathir, has a dirty past. The best Najib can do is to hold out for a few more months.

If Najib were to destroy Mahathir now, it would start a media frenzy, which would eclipse the one Zohra is facing today.  Zohra’s gaffe has caused quite a stir. She tried to put on a brave face and refused to apologise, thus avoiding an admission of guilt. Ironically, her intransigence has damaged UMNO by rallying the rakyat to vote for the Opposition.

Respect the Rukunegara

January 21, 2013

A Message to Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali and Others like him: Respect the Rukunegara

by Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi*@

COMMENT: I wish to comment on the irresponsible statement of Ibrahim Ali Dr Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi(purposely NOT using any titles) on the burning of Malay language Bibles with the name Allah. I think such statements, if left unchecked by the Malaysian public, elected representatives and especially the Prime Minister himself, would create a culture of extreme violence and victimize many innocent Malaysians.

I urge peace loving and sensible Malaysian of all religious faiths to come together and denounce such ‘grandstanding statements’ that clearly violate our ‘sacred’ Rukunegara tenet of ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’.

Our forefathers have worked hard to build this nation of diverse communities, race and Ibrahim Alireligions and derive the principle of ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’. I am convinced, as a Malaysian, as an academic and as a Muslim, that the May 13 tragedy that saw many innocent lives lost was not due to the ignorance of ordinary Malaysians but by politicians trying to be popular by using such fiery instructions in order to incite racial hatred.

I have read the book ‘A Singapore Story’ and some other critical writings that indicate that the culprits of our racial mistrusts and clashes were in no small part due to self-serving politicians and a media which has no sense of honour whether in the Islamic spirit or in any religious spirit.

Have we Malaysians, and especially Malays, forgotten our own principle in the Rukunegara, crafted in our own Melayu Language. Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan. As good  am I with English I can’t translate properly the word ‘kesusilaan’. The word, and I am not a scholar in Lingusitics, connotes to me such softness, tact and, politeness, concern and humility. Is there a better word than this to reflect such a great culture of the Malays?

Ridhuan Tee AbdullahI dare say that the Prophet Muhammad, if Allah had not intended for him to be born in Arabia, would have been a Malay. Why? Because the Prophet was the softest and most humble, polite and considerate of men.

I have read through over 20,000 hadiths from the compilations of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Madjah along with the Muwatta and the Sirah Ibn Ishaq to conjure up a man which a hadith says that the Prophet was so ‘shy’ and gentle that even a small slave girl can lead him.

This characteristic of gentleness is totally unheard off in the boisterous, rowdy and all man’s world of the Arabs. When the Prophet Muhammad stood on the fields of Ta’if with a bloodied and scarred body after being stoned by children and adults of the settlement, he still forbade the Angel Jibrail from taking any retribution and destroy the community. Why? For ‘I am sent as a Mercy to mankind’ said the Prophet.

When Aishah asked him ‘What was your greatest fear, O Rasulullah?’ He replied that he feared of giving in to his feeling of vengeance and destroying the community with a single command. The Prophet did not fear death or bodily harm. He feared giving in to his ego and vengeful feeling that all humanity possess.

Who are we Malays then?

I, therefore ask, who are we Malays then? Are we better than the Prophet? Look at ourHarussani examples. The mufti (right) and other higher authorities have INSTRUCTED, ORDERED and DECREED that non-Muslims MUST NOT use the word Allah. The PAS Syura Council that has all the so-called great Islamic scholars went round and round their wordings until settling on almost the same tone of instruction, order and decree.

Now we have the person of Ibrahim Ali calling on the burning of the Bible or the Injil. Unless I am mistaken, Allah called on all Muslims to honour the Books of Allah in the past and its PEOPLES. Yes… yes…we can argue about what book and which Bible that have been ‘tampered’ with and all that stuff but I have read the Bible in English and I, for one, found many enlightening things that Nabi Isa says that has helped me get closer to Allah The Most High.

I think I am honouring what the Qur’an says in Surah Al-Baqara to believe in the Books. I also read other books of our great religions that have given the first idea of humaneness to human civilisation.

41. And believe in what I have sent down (this Qur’an), confirming that which is with you, [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], and be not the first to disbelieve therein, and buy not with My Verses [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] a small price (i.e. getting a small gain by selling My Verses), and fear Me and Me Alone. (Tafsir At-Tabari, Vol. I, Page 253).

The whole Allah issue to me was handled as badly as it can be handled. Why? It is simply anNik-Aziz-Nik-Mat instrument of political influence. If the so called scholars and politicians of Islam were sincerely concerned about such confusion on the Malay usage of the word Allah, there should have been a courteous call for discussion with our brothers and sisters of the Christian faith. Not instruct, order and decree first… and… then call for discussion.

What discussion? It seems that the decision has already been chiselled into stone. Where in heavens name is the Rukunegara? Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan?  Ibrahim Ali has called for the burning of the Bible. What next? Let us Malays go burn a church at 4 pm next week? Oh… while we’re at it why don’t we burn a few Christians… if we have time!

What talk is this? What country is this? Have we forgotten the decency to discuss cordially. “This is an Islamic Country and I am a Malay and so you better do as I say!” Is that the line we are taking now as Malays? Perhaps that is a Malay cultural trait… I do not know. But I DO KNOW it is NOT what the Prophet would say or do. It is NOT within the Islamic Spirit as shown by the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him).

I can quote pages and pages of hadith showing the generosity and magnanimity of Muhammad Rasulullah. I can’t seem to find any of the same characteristics in Malay politicians in Malaysia.

Dr MMy wife and I have raised five children and now we have a grandson. I am sure all Christian parents and Muslim parents are concerned about where this country is going and would it be safe to be a place to stay. Just because I am a Malay, with a million-strong mostly Malay civil service, and an equal number of police and military personnel of my race does not give me the right to frighten my brothers and sisters of the Christian faith… or any other faith for that matter.

So, before such volatile statement turn into regrettable actions, I call upon the last strand of decency from the politicians of the ruling party, and especially the Prime Minister, to denounce Ibrahim Ali and his war-mongering words. Or else, we would have to change our Rukunegara from ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’ to ‘Kekasaran dan Kegila-gilaan’.

*Dr.Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi is Professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s School of Architecture. A prolific writer, he has authored over 30 books, including his latest, ‘Why Listen to the Vice-Chancellor?

January 12 People’s Uprising Rally: Scant UMNO Mainstream Press Coverage

January 12, 2013

January 12 People’s Uprising Rally: Scant UMNO Mainstream Press Coverage

by Malaysiakini (01-11-13)


Although Pakatan Rakyat and NGOs are mobilising their supporters for tomorrow’s People’s Uprising Rally, which could be the biggest such event in recent years, English and Malay mainstream coverage did not reflect it.

Even Sinar Harian, the Malay daily seen as relatively neutral compared with those in the UMNO-linked Media Prima stable, did not give much space to the news today.

NONEThe daily dedicated its frontpage to the controversy over the use of ‘Allah’ word, relegating its news on the rally to page 8 with five reports.

Three reports quoted taxi drivers, university students and UMNO Vice-President Mohd Shafie Apdal respectively objecting to the rally, one report on police’s assurance that it will be controlled peacefully, and another on tomorrow’s commuter service tomorrow operating as usual.

No mention was made about the seven gathering points and rally guidelines issued by the organisers yesterday.

Yesterday Sinar Harian carried a report on its page 10 quoting PAS Deputy President Mohamad Sabu as saying that the organisers will guarantee a rally free of riots and chaos.

NONEThe UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysia has launched an aggressive campaign against the rally, publishing at least 10 news reports and commentaries lambasting the planned event.

In its second page, the Malay daily featured a full-page of photographs highlighting the violent scenes during last April’s BERSIH 3.0 rally, warning readers not to join tomorrow’s rally.

Berita Harian, the Malay newspaper under the Media Prima group, published two reports quoting Shafie and Kuala Lumpur Police Chief Mohmad Salleh.

The latter advised the organisers to shift to Bukit Jalil National Stadium as the venue can accommodate more participants than the Merdeka Stadium, the organisers’ preferred venue.

New Straits Times, the English newspaper belonging to the same group, carried only one story on the issue, which contained Mohmad and Dang Wangi police chief Zainuddin Ahmad’s statements on the rally.

The MCA-owned The Star also has only a single report on the event, including all the views expressed by the police, the organisers and those against it.

Hishamuddin Rais, Pak Samad Said and Haris IbrahimIt quoted rally’s spokesperson Hishamuddin Rais (seen with Poet Samad Said and Activist-lawyer Haris Ibrahim) as saying that the participants would converge from different areas in the capital, and they hoped for a trouble free rally.

Complementing the report is the photograph of the mysterious anti-Jalur Gemilang banner with a caption reading “Down with the old: Banners calling for the Jalur Gemilang to be changed. They have since been taken down”.

In contrast to the Malay and English newspapers, their Chinese counterparts including Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press and Oriental Daily News have given significant and wide coverage on the event, carrying statements from all quarters and details of the gathering points.

Himpunan Bangkitan Rakyat2

Satisfied Ku Li stays in UMNO

March 28, 2012

Satisfied Ku Li stays in UMNO


Despite the differences of views with UMNO leadership, UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah says he will not follow the steps of his colleague Kadir Sheikh Fadzir to quit the party.

tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 04In an exclusive interview with Chinese Oriental Daily News published today, the Gua Musang MP (right) maintained his loyalty to UMMO and expressed satisfaction with his current status in the party.

“I’m still free to do things and say things I want in UMNO. Although some of my statements will make some people in UMNO unhappy, that does not mean I should leave UMNO,” he was quoted as saying.

He likened the situation to the relationship of two brothers in a family who sometimes quarreled with each other but that does not mean they must disown each other.

The former Finance Minister is currently the President of Amanah Merdeka, a NGO founded by him together with other current and former BN leaders.

Last week Kadir Sheikh, one of Amanah Deputy Presidents and also a former UMNO minister, resigned from the party that he had joined for 56 years. This followed attacks by UMNO leaders and mainstream media over his allegations that UMNO leaders were involved in vote-buying.

On the role of Amanah, Razaleigh said the public perception that it will serve as a third force in the Malaysian political landscape was a misunderstanding because he has no intention to fight BN or UMNO through Amanah.

He said the NGO was initiated by Kadir Sheikh (right) and others, and he reluctantly accepted the Presidency after they aggressively lobbied him. Describing his presidency as a figure head, Razaleigh said he is ready to vacate the post at any time if there was a more suitable candidate. The group, however, is not as active as presumed by some quarters, he said.

“I attended the launching but after that we did not do much. The major reason is we are too busy.”

Although most of the members want Amanah to be registered as a political party and play a significant role in the next general election, Razaleigh held a contrary stand: “I’m one of the minority who opposed it because I”m already a UMNO member. I can’t be a member of two political parties.”

“Some people think I should quit UMNO but I have been active in UMNO for almost 50 years,” he continued, reiterating that he has no intention at all to leave the ruling party.

Dual-party membership disallowed

He clarified that he and his colleagues in UMNO did not quit the party in 1987, instead they had no choice but to form Semangat 46 because they were not allowed by the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to join the ‘new UMNO’ founded by Mahathir when the original UMNO was declared illegal by the court.

After the 1995 general election, Mahathir requested that they return to Umno, hence they dissolved Semangat 46, he said. Asked why Semangat 46 was dissolved, Razaleigh simply answered that it was because a person is not allowed to have dual-party membership. There was neither any promise by Mahathir nor any request by him when both factions reunited.

NONEOn the allegations that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (left) approached him and other BN parliamentarians to join Pakatan Rakyat to topple the federal government on Sept 16, 2008, Razaleigh denied it.

He said Anwar did engage him to form a new government but did not lobby him to join Pakatan.

“At that time I told him I will not follow him. I will continue to stay in UMNO and I wished him good luck. I also advised him not to be over confident because these people (BN MPs) will change their mind anytime and he may be disappointed. But Anwar replied that he will continue to push for it. Looking back now, I was right. The plan was indeed hard to be realised,” Razaleight revealed.

On Anwar’s ability, Razaleigh said he is an outstanding politician who can unite all the three opposition parties but his governing capacity has yet to be tested.

Contrary to the popular perception, Razaleigh commented that the Achilles’ heel of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration is the concept of 1Malaysia.“Many people will ask if you really believe in 1Malaysia, why there are still so many racial issues?”

Although Najib (left) is a hardworking politician, Razaleigh noted, one of his biggest challenges is to address the problems inherited from the previous administration, including discriminatory policies, corruption and substandard public delivery system.

“Take the political party as an example. Some people may ask, how can you promote 1Malaysia when the party you lead, that is UMNO, is still a racial party?”

Amanat Presiden UMNO at 61st General Assembly

October 22, 2010

Amanat Presiden (Presidential Address) at 61st UMNO General Assembly (October 21, 2010)

by Prime Minister and UMNO President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

Empowering Malaysians to achieve prosperity

I BEGIN my speech by inviting you to ponder two edicts of Allah. In Surah al-Baqarah, verse 143, reads: “And so we have made you a Muslim, part of the community at the centre in order that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger, who is Muhammad, to be a witness of your actions.”

Surah a-li Imran, verse 159, also contains the edict which says: “It was by the grace of Almighty Allah, you deal gently with them. If you are being hard-hearted, they would stay away from you. In view of that, do pardon them. Ask forgiveness for them and engage with them.”

Ladies and gentlemen:

Indeed, we are grateful to Allah for His blessing that we are gathered once again in this august hall. Let us pray for the blessings of Prophet Muhammad the venerable leader and for always showing us the way.

If we are to undertake a count, then this 61st general assembly marks the 25th time that the assembly is being held since 1985. Therefore, UMNO has come a long way into adulthood since it started with tiny steps and then marching along the way over time.

In the meantime, whether consciously or not, for over six decades UMNO has lit the torch for the advancement of the Malays and safeguarding the interests of the nation. In this regard, we wish to state emphatically that over the past 64 years, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), has been the only shining torch looking after the interests and souls of the Malays.

For this reason, no one can deny the massive influence and role of the party for generations where its leadership had faced various odds and challenges while being the driver of change in the country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

What we are striving for today, is not something new. Instead, it is a continuation of the aspirations of the Malays and Malaysians when we made the decision to seek independence. Therefore, since then, three major principles and beliefs that we have been consistent is that Malay unity is at the core of national unity. Second, Islam as Addin, and thirdly, the prosperity of the nation as the pillar of social justice.

If we are to ascertain this, it was in the early 50’s that the president of UMNO then, the late Datuk Onn Jaafar promoted the idea for the party’s membership to be opened to non-Malays as he saw the reality, in that independence could not be achieved without the various races agreeing to share power.

However, Onn’s proposal at the time was deemed as too progressive for UMNO members who felt the position of the Malays was still not that strong. As a result, it was opposed by the majority of UMNO members and leaders. In the end, Onn left UMNO and went on to set up the Independence of Malaya Party to continue with his goal.

In spite of this, the people in UMNO have this to say: Hidup sebumbung, di bawah teratak, Berlain bantal, satu hati, Bercerai kasih, bertalak tidak, Ibarat rambut, bersimpul mati. On the other hand, although the idea by Onn at the time was not acceptable by UMNO, his successor, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, was aware of the importance of multiethnic political cooperation to achieve independence. Tunku then took on a strategy that was more realistic and acceptable by the majority of the Malays and others by pioneering an alliance among the various races.

The partnership which came into being in 1955 through a power-sharing partnership via the Alliance was by gathering UMNO, MCA and MIC, respectively to represent the interests of the Malays, Chinese and Indians. After the tragedy of May 13, 1969, the country’s leaders then realised that unity cannot be nurtured by only using political mechanisms without being underpinned by socio-economic foundations and social justice.

As such, the late Tun Abdul Razak formulated and implemented the New Economic Policy (NEP) with the aim of addressing the socio-economic disparities between the races that nearly destroyed the fabric of national unity. This new economic approach was made possible by the dynamism of the market system laid down by the late Tunku earlier.

Brothers and Sisters:

Here, I would like to draw the attention to some of us and others who might have overlooked that the New Economic Policy was in fact based on the principle to foster national unity. The only difference was that the basic tools used were socio-economic in nature, and not purely political as was done previously by the leadership through the Alliance.

In the same breath, Tun Razak did not forget the importance of political mechanisms as tools to foster unity. He enlarged the base from the Alliance to establish Barisan Nasional or the National Front.

Through this foundation of cooperation and sharing of power between the races, it was also extended to the states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Let us not forget that the first “bridge” built between the states in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak over the South China Sea was the political bridge of Barisan Nasional, 11 years after the establishment of Malaysia. It was later reinforced by the presence of UMNO in Sabah, the Land Below the Wind, in 1991.

When the NEP ended in 1990, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister at that time, defined a policy directing the country towards becoming a developed nation by 2020. Through a working paper entitled “Malaysia: Moving Forward”, which was delivered at the launch of the Malaysian Business Council on Feb 28, 1991, he envisioned that Malaysia will become a developed country within three decades.

At that time, the aspiration was such that by 2020, Malaysia will enjoy the same living standards as the United States. The per capita income of the United States at that time was about US$20,000 (RM62,145). Although we do know that there were certain quarters who claimed that the goal was a mere fantasy like that of the proverbial Mat Jenin, Dr Mahathir’s argument was strong and neat. He had stated that during the NEP period, the average annual growth of the nation was 6.7 per cent. If within a period of 30 years to 2020 when growth could be increased to 7.0 per cent, which was 0.3 per cent more than the years between 1971 and 1990, then that aspiration was not impossible.

In addition to economic aspects, he also outlined nine more socio-political challenges before Vision 2020 could be realised. The most important was strengthening national unity to forge Bangsa Malaysia. The experience from the NEP showed that equitable distribution of wealth can only happen amidst a robust economy.

What is very clear here, in order to ensure national unity, two mechanisms, political and socio-economic, should converge. This means that national unity would not be effective without social justice and social justice cannot be created without political stability and economic prosperity based on national unity. In short, these three elements are complementary, interrelated and will mutually reinforce each other.

Brothers and Sisters:

Having been entrusted to lead the party and country about 18 months ago when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi handed over power in line with the Umno tradition of harmonious continuity within its leadership, I have decided not to reinvent the wheel but to take the examples of the wisdom and foresight of the past leadership in the party and country through a formula that has already been tried and tested over time.

As such, this gave birth to the philosophy of 1Malaysia, a pragmatic continuation of the vision of our forefathers in the party and government. National unity is a dynamic thing. It should always be fertilised and nurtured, if not, it will soon be in tatters. The Alliance was formed in line with the needs of the times, but after the tragedy of May 13, 1969, saw to that model being revitalised through Barisan Nasional and the elements of social justice via the NEP.

The result was that the foundations which were laid down by the late Tunku were continued by the late Tun Razak through BN and the NEP. The late Tun Hussein Onn, who is also known as the Father of Unity, was firm and sincere in undertaking his duties. Later, Dr Mahathir proceeded with the concept of Bangsa Malaysia. Tun Abdullah then followed suit with the building of human capital and strengthening the country’s National Mission.

Brothers and Sisters:

If national unity, prosperity and social justice are mutually binding and intertwined, then, in addition to 1Malaysia, we have introduced the Government Transformation Plan, or GTP, and six National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) and Economic Transformation Plan, or ETP, to further build the prosperity and well-being of the people.

As presented earlier before this, the ETP is a comprehensive plan, covering major guidelines of the New Economic Model and eight strategic initiatives. It also contains a clear direction to 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) and precise mechanism of the 10th and 11th Malaysia Plans.

Again, in this respect, 1Malaysia is also in line with Islamic values and the spirit reflected by Prophet Muhammad in nation-building as well as the early foundations of the Islamic civilisation in Medina. Communities of various races and religions in Medina then lived in harmony from rules based on a constitution which prioritised and defended the religions of all parties and provided justice for all. The Constitution also protected minorities and accorded the freedom of religious practice to those non-Muslims as well.

Brothers and Sisters:

Clearly, this is not a new dream. This is the eternal aspiration of the country in the past and in time to come. It was the idea of the late Onn, the ideals of the late Tunku, the hopes of my late father, Tun Hussein’s desires, aspirations of Dr Mahathir and Abdullah’s goals. Certainly, it has become my vision, together with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and colleagues in UMNO, BN and the government.

I am confident and believe that it is a noble intention backed by you, ladies and gentlemen who are in this hall and outside this hall, and by all the people of this beloved country. In short, by all, wherever you are, we are 1Malaysia.

On top of all this, if we visualise, in the Malay culture, leadership comes in many forms. Starting from the leadership in the households, villages right up to the leadership of the community and nation. Due to their important influence in life, leaders are entrusted with the responsibility of leading the people as reflected in the phrase “the custom holds on to the trust of the people, never backstab, the custom holds on to the belief of power, never destroy, and never forget your boundaries”.

At this juncture, although there may be ups and downs, bitterness and criticisms heaped upon Umno by the opposition, history has clearly shown that we have lasted more than 60 years of service, assistance and devotion towards the development of the Malays as well as the nation. In addition, the ability and integrity of UMNO was not only acknowledged in this region but the world over.

Indeed, for over decades, what was said by us was not empty promise. This can be seen from the records in the country, this party has transformed disunity into unity, from colonial mindsets of the past to independent thoughts, from a lack of self-confidence at one time to one of self-confidence now of which we are all proud of, and from one of despair to full of hope for the future.

Let us not forget, this party has been tasked to change Malays who were not politically conscious before World War 2 to a nation that was able to gain independence through negotiations with one of the world’s major powers, Britain.

In addition, the neatly-arranged records in the country will also show that UMNO had raised the consciousness of nationalism, patriotism and political democracy. In the big picture, it has been proven that the Umno leadership had succeeded in leading the speedy transformation of the Malaysia that we enjoy today.

In listing the stories of our achievements, we would like to ask, who had successfully led in this great struggle? What was the value system? The question here is that we do not want to be pondering over our past successes, but examine what had been the strengths and factors that had been fundamental to the sturdiness of our organisation. In this context, it would be appropriate if I recited some poetry by National Laureate, the late Usman Awang, and some gurindam by another literary giant, Effendy Tenas, who wrote about the Malays.

Melayu itu, kaya falsafahnya

Melayu itu, orang yang bijaksana

Akal budi bersulamkan daya

Jawa itu Melayu, Bugis itu Melayu

Banjar juga disebut Melayu,

Minangkabau memang Melayu,

Keturunan Acheh adalah Melayu

Jakun dan Sakai asli Melayu,

Arab dan Pakistani, semua Melayu

Mamak dan Malbari serap ke Melayu

Malah muallaf bertakrif Melayu

Kadazan, Bajau, India Muslim dan Siam, Melanau, Bidayuh dan berpuluh suku kaum,

Kita bersama dalam serumpun,

Watak Melayu menolak permusuhan

Setia dan sabar tiada sempadan

Maruah dan agama dihina jangan Hebat amuknya tak kenal lawan

Menjadi pemimpin sifatnya agung Syarak dipakai adat dijunjung

Hidupnya mengabdi kepada rakyat

Taat setia membela umat

Dijadikan induk kuat berdiri

Umat sentosa bertuahlah negeri.

Based on the lines that I just recited, it just goes to show that in psychology, in the behaviour or the character of the Malay, the fundamentals are reflected in the seeds of moral leadership. If explored further, the Malays accord a high placing on the refined attitude of leaders and their leadership in the community.

Evidently, the Malays have stood the test of time. Their character has also enabled Malays to be accepted as leaders in a multicultural society. Their moral leadership has also enabled them to take on the leadership of the nation.

What is more important is that the features of Malay leadership that I am talking about, had been further refined with the arrival of Islam that had called for and supported the wasatiyah approach, which is a principle of the practice of life by individuals and society in a balanced and comprehensive manner in all fields, especially in matters concerning unity and nationhood.

Since then, and from time to time, the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah had been embroidered and woven neatly into the daily lives of the Malays.

According to scholars, those who practise the wasatiyah or middle way are those who are not only noted for their ability to work hard for their well-being in this world but the hereafter also.

Subsequently, the most important thing to remember is that, in determining the survival of a nation, we need the right leadership style and honest understanding of its concept, especially in a unique country like Malaysia.

In this regard, we should be grateful that Malaysia, a multi-racial and multi-religious country, remains stable and free of any major conflict. Hence, every person should accept that racial diversity is a blessing and a gift from Allah.

Indeed, pluralism is a source of strength for us. This is how the world has always been and how it will remain forever. What is important is how do we leverage this asset for the country’s success.

In this context, all parties need to open their hearts. Although we practise affirmative action to ensure social justice, the success of an individual is limited only by his or her creativity, innovation and willingness to work hard and take risks.

For example, non-Bumiputeras, after 39 years of affirmative action, are still the ones with the greatest wealth. We are aware that certain quarters claim that affirmative action had caused hardship. However, empirical evidence showed otherwise. In fact, the attitude of beneficiaries, methods of implementation and the landscape of action were source of the problems.

Furthermore, when certain quarters began to question the position of the Malays as a race that is protected by certain rights, it caused anger and discontent among us who are noted for our accommodating nature. Like an ember in a padi husk, this feeling is starting to burn and may spread to damage the harmonious race relations that have long been forged.

Unfortunately, after 53 years of Independence, today the people of Malaysia face a relentless onslaught on the foundations of sound relations among communities that have existed for so long. If the national polemics is not handled well, we fear it might threaten national unity.

For this reason, brothers and sisters, we must remain vigilant, we must continue to remind ourselves that the success of our beloved land has been made possible by the contributions, ideas and sacrifices of the various races. It was not the deeds or ideas exclusively of one race but the collective efforts of all communities from which we reap the harvest.

What will become a problem is when history is ignored and irresponsible parties try to reinterpret it to suit their narrow interests or agendas.

Opportunistic leaders, fishing in troubled waters, are really wolves in sheep’s clothing, playing with fire to manipulate the situation, are to be rejected in leadership. They are not qualified to be called leaders.

Brothers and sisters:

Be mindful of the dream merchants who tell fairy tales, becoming swashbucklers who twist falsehood, weave hatred, trade defamatory, blend honey with poison, and ridicule sacrifices and without any shame invite us to enjoy the low-hanging khuldi fruits to the extend of gambling everything.

Brothers and sisters:

Taking off from there, the Malays are particularly hurt that the pledge sealed at the advent of Independence is recant. Whereas it was on the basis of this pact that we were willing to make major sacrifices, sharing Malaya with the other races, to achieve Independence.

At the same time, the acceptance of citizenship that is based on the principle of jus soli or right over the birthplace of jus sanguinis principle, that is the blood right, has transformed overnight the Malay socio-political landscape forever.

That is why, we can no longer be imprisoned in the story of the past without looking to the future. The basic question here is the principle of integrity, any contract made under the rule of law, if not respected, will mean no certainty at all even for basic things that have been agreed together. The business analogy is that the parties that break promises will no longer be trusted.

Furthermore, if a pledge of loyalty is discarded as one pleases when it no longer suits certain tastes or interests, mutual trust and respect will be destroyed and we will be infected with suspicion. It is endemic and dangerous, I repeat, very dangerous to a country with diverse races, religions and cultures such as Malaysia as it can destroy all that was built over the past 50 years.

One thing is for sure, the counterbalance to all this is not only from the Malays but other races as well. It is manifested through moral consensus, that is, in exchange for citizenship, the non-Malays were willing to accept the principle of special privileges as provided under the provisions of Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Then Malaysian citizen-ship was in principle no longer based on equal rights and opportunities but has been adapted to the existing reality for the sake of long-term national goals and interests.

Brothers and sisters:

This is actually the core of the contract sealed by consensus by our founding fathers who represented the various races at the start of Independence. It was later enacted as a national social contract, sealed in the Federal Constitution which is the supreme law of the country. Like it or not, we must respect the noble consensus since that is the key to national survival.

Now, as the present generation of leadership, we have been entrusted to cope with the demands of this monumental era, as the first generation of leaders who are faced with the challenge of building a foundation of diversity. Therefore, it is highly irresponsible if we chose to fold our arms and sit passively without doing anything. Worse still, if we leave these responsibilities to future generations of leaders to shoulder.

As such, we must build a new runway in Malaysian race relations by taking into account two important principles. First, it should be based on a shared future, and secondly, it must take into account the realities of history without losing sight of today’s and the future’s potential.

Brothers and sisters:

Mankind cannot escape from reality and the environment. Malaysia is a country based on the principles enshrined in the Constitution and the rule of law as the national ideology as espoused in the five principles of the Rukun Negara.

As we know, the position of the Malays and the Bumiputeras and other races in terms of politics has been clearly enshrined in the Constitution. It is neatly locked in Article 3 on citizenship, Article 38 on the Conference of Rulers, Article 152 on the national language and Article 153 which include, among others, reserve quota services and permits for the Malays.

Next, ladies and gentlemen, we must understand and acknowledge that the amendment to these articles cannot be done without the consent of the Conference of Rulers in accordance with Article 159 of the Federal Constitution. It is strengthened by Article 10 Clause 4 which empowers the Parliament to enact a law prohibiting questioning any matter, rights, status, position, privileges, sovereignty or sovereign rights protected by the provisions of Clause 3, Article 152, Article 153, and Article 181.

In relation to this matter, let us be informed of how the great polemics today evolved, either on nationality after Independence or special rights of the Malays. In fact, the debate has become academic. This is because in terms of legislation, its provisions have already been expressed and soldered.

Even a two-thirds majority in Parliament would not enable any party to change anything without the consent of the Conference of Rulers, which comprises nine Malay rulers. In other words, battle cries will be in vain as capitalising on the provisions of citizenship to threaten other races will not work as these are concrete and cannot be repealed even if an emergency is declared.

Overall, like it or not, there are very strong reasons why these things are not allowed to be amended, except with the consent of the Conference of Rulers. The wisdom is that such provisions are placed outside the forum of discussions. If it is open for debate, we fear that it would spark unrest and incite primordial instincts or natural instincts existing among ethnic groups.

Above all, Malaysians must realise that history has shown no matter how advanced an economy, how revolutionised a civilisation, how clever humans are and how high the level of tolerance, if primal instincts are not managed properly, we may, as a consequence witness extreme cruelty fuelled by the darker human traits.

What I say is not surprising. In the 20th century, we have been shown cases of punishment without trial in the United States, the holocaust tragedy in Europe, the slaughter of Palestinians in West Asia and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda. So, one can imagine the result, if each generation of Malaysians take a stand to question the fairness of the national social contract that had been previously sealed by consensus by our predecessors.

The consequences will be much faster, especially in the borderless world with sophisticated information and communication technology system that is constantly evolving. The crux of the matter, brothers and sisters, why do want to change what has worked so well. Let us not allow what is good to be broken, and what is joined to be cut.

Brothers and sisters:

Beyond this situation, as Malays who are the majority, we have a leadership responsibility. The moral responsibility of leadership that extends beyond the interests of our own community. This responsibility has naturally been bestowed on us Malays as the majority forming 67 per cent of the population. As I said at the outset of my speech, this provision is validated by historical factors and the attitude of the race itself.

Thus is the fate of a race chosen to lead a plural society. The continuous trust of the other races should encourage the Malays to constantly improve themselves and become the leading facilitator among the races.

In other words, amid modernism and accelerated globalisation, the question of rights, dignity and origins will not have any meaning if the community is backward and left behind. Consequently, the courtesy shown to us and hope placed upon us by others, will fade away. As such, we now have to get up and run quickly to justify our role as Malays with prudence and professionalism.

Brothers and sisters,

Looking ahead, since the general assembly in March last year, various plans and careful planning and strategies had been devised. Therefore, we can no longer procrastinate. To overcome all obstacles, our focus now is on the party’s modus operandi. UMNO’s modus operandi as a political party must change. Even so, Umno must remain steadfast to its original purpose as a Malay mass party expounding the aspirations of the community.

Admiral Hang Tuah said the Malays will not disappear from the face of the earth. The Malays, especially those from this region, has traversed centuries of ebb and flow. Let it be known, the forthcoming year is not an ordinary year. It marks 500 years since the fall of the Malacca empire. Here, we should learn why a great empire in the Malay Archipelago, once a trading transit point between two continents, had fallen to the Portuguese.

Ironically, many quarters only focus on the collapse of the Malay empire due to internal betrayal. True, this was part of the reason. But no less important was the great difference in military might and the weapons used.

What I mean is that the Portuguese had used modern weapons of the time with rifles and artillery while the defenders of Malacca at that time were still using weapons of a bygone era. Although daggers, bows and arrows and spears were a symbol of heroism they could not match guns and cannons. That was the convention, the way the world turned.

Therefore, the Malays of the third millennium, the 21st century Malays, must be ready for the era. Rather than being obsessed with rights, the Malays of the 21st century must prepare themselves to take advantage of existing rights. What is the use of quotas, reserves and permits if everything is being wasted. What good is a chance if it is forfeited for short-term profits.

Hence, the Malays of the 21st century must work hard to build capacity and capability, instead of just thumping their chests exerting that they should be successful as it is their right to succeed. Like it or not, the Malays must face the reality of this century to achieve success.

We should be global Malays. Brothers and sisters, I want to ask, what is lacking of the Malays? The Malays should be able to compete with the best. The Malays should be able to fight with the most powerful. The Malays must be the greatest on the international stage.

Therefore, as President of Umno I do not want to hear any excuse that the Malays are still weak because of nearly five centuries of colonialism. I, as president of UMNO, and my colleagues in the party leadership, are not willing to see the Malays become a nation which goes begging, we do not want to see the Malays become a complacent race. As the maxim goes “small gains will not become a fortune”.

Let me stress, I would like to remind all that the fight today is a battle of the minds and skills. Whoever is wiser, whoever controls information influences the situation. Therefore, do not take the easy way out by becoming dogmatic and satisfied with the form rather than the content.

Brothers and sisters, to all parties: Is it not what had been achieved for 53 years since Independence the result of efforts and leadership of the Malays? Thus, we become suffocated and restless these days when we hear discordant voices that try to belittle the achievements of the Malays. Very true, it is very easy to make insulting remarks as the tongue is boneless. They like to allege that the public service is a pit of inefficiency.

On the contrary, if the public service is not competent, we would have become a failed nation a long time ago, we will not have developed from a low-income agricultural nation to a modern industrial nation.

We have proven all these years that we have succeeded without the need to have foreign military bases on our good earth to give us a security umbrella. We also succeeded indisputably as an independent and sovereign nation. We have also succeeded with the various races in building this sacred land.

Certainly, we have weaknesses, but we have still been able at all times to overcome challenges through our own efforts and in our own way without relying on other countries.

In facing all this, UMNO will deliver on the trust it has been entrusted upon to uphold the interests of the Malays, religion and country. We will not do so merely by poetic words but with various concrete initiatives, programmes and policies.

Umno will never allow the Malay race to be helpless and strangers in their own country. We are committed to doing not only what is best, but what is right for the Malay diaspora. We cannot afford to sink amidst our awe of the past. In fact, we not only have to deal with external challenges but also challenges from some of our own people who appear willing to gamble everything away for the sake of power.

As a lesson from all this, UMNO members should not lose hope or be filled with despair. Islam strictly prohibits us to give up hope. As members and people of UMNO, we should not allow ourselves to be dispirited and wallow in of defeat nor allow UMNO to be easily destroyed.

Hence, in building for the future and in our quest to strengthen the race, we need to go through three phases of recovery. The first and most important phase is to acknowledge the weaknesses and problems faced by us. The second phase is to reflect upon them and find effective remedies to overcome the deficiencies. The third phase is to start working on the recovery plans. What is important is that all three phases must be done properly with attention to detail. Otherwise, the changes and reforms will not succeed.

Umno is not an ordinary party. UMNO was born from the conscience and aspirations of the Malays. Tracing its journey, UMNO has gone through many trials and tribulations. In 1951, the President and founder of UMNO left the party. Subsequently, PAS was established by a presidential candidate who lost to the late Tunku in an election to replace Datuk ”Onn as the new leader of UMNO.

By 1969, UMNO and its partners lost its grip on a two-thirds majority for the first time in Parliament, and at the same time we were confronted with racial riots, and democracy had to be suspended. The world at that time appeared to bid farewell to Umno. 1987 also saw the splitting of the party and racial tension again hit the nation.

A year later in 1988, we felt very saddened as if we were hit by a bolt of lightning, swooped upon by an eagle, or that we had lost our shelter, when we were forced to receive the bad news that Umno, a party which had done a lot of good in the past, was declared illegal.

In the late 1990s, not only did we face the international financial crisis, we also saw a political downswing when many Malays no longer supported the party. We were then hit by the frightening political tsunami of 2008.

Alhamdulillah, despite whatever obstacles or tests, I believe that for those who plod on, persevere and have trust in Allah the Almighty, victory would definitely come. In every crisis, Umno has managed to bounce back and stabilise the situation where all odds seemed stacked against us.

All this is because the members and leaders of UMNO continued to have their feet planted firmly on the ground. All this is possible because the members and leaders of UMNO never for a moment lost confidence in the true struggles of the party or lost hope in its leaders. The basic fact was that the noble principles of UMNO had not only benefited the Malays but all Malaysians as well.

In fact, we are the first political party that had dared to expand the voting block – increasing the number of electors to 140,000.Even before we amended the constitution, we had been known for our highly competitive elections.

These are our noble aims. These are the transparent and noble steps of UMNO these are the heights of Malay aspirations.

Therefore, can we believe that the prosperity of Malaysia can be sustained if the opposition parties, which are in disarray, were to hold the reins of power? Can the people of Malaysia place their trust on people who think of nothing else but to seek power in the seat of government? Can we leave Malaysia to the traitors of our people and of this beloved nation?

Indeed, to our members, we place our party’s destiny in your hands. Under your watch, we will endeavour to protect Umno. On your shoulders will the legacy of the United Malays National Organisation live on.

Ayuh.. Jangankan gerimis, hujan pun mari kita redahi Jangankan ribut, taufan pun mesti kita harungi Jangankan air bah, gelombang badai pun harus berani kita renangi Jangankan gerhana, kelam gelita pun pasti kita terangi.

Therefore, let me remind you all, let us not be hit by the poisonous darts from the theatricals of the Opposition which can only bring about failure. Stay steadfast to the party. Be loyal to the banners of Barisan Nasional. Even if we are broken or divorced from the life of the body, brothers and sisters, we must defend Putrajaya at all costs!

(What’s a drizzle when we can brave a downpour. What’s a storm when we dare face a typhoon .What’s a flood, when we fear not a tidal wave What”s an eclipse when we can light up pitch darkness)

For the sake of Islam, for the sake of the Malays and for the sake of Malaysia. Let us come together to strengthen the race and lead in prosperity. Intoning Bismillahirrahmanirrahim, I hereby declare open the 61st Umno General Assembly 2010. — Bernama

Read more: 61st Umno General Assembly:<br>Empowering people to achieve prosperity