KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Seri Najib Razak has a lot to talk about when he takes to the rostrum on Thursday to open the 2017 Umno general assembly as the party revs up for the 14th general election (GE14).
Over 5,700 party faithful who will converge on the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here for the gathering will be all ears as they and other party members prepare to swing into high gear to win the hearts and minds of voters in a bid for GE14 glory.
Expected to be a hotly contested affair by those eyeing the coveted Putrajaya seat of power, it is already dubbed the ‘mother of all elections’.
Expect the Umno president and prime minister to remind Umno’s over three million members that the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) backbone party is still strong despite facing numerous challenges, and is more than capable of delivering on its promises to the people. Najib will likely drive home the message of Umno’s central role in championing the Malay and other communities as well as bringing progress to the country — a role that is well embedded in the history of the 71-year-old party.
“Umno is a party that champions the people, loves this country, willing to sacrifice to the last drop of blood for malaysia. Umno belongs to the people and the members, and not to certain individuals,” Najib said in a recent blog posting.
Observers opined that Najib would underline the need for party members to cast aside any sliver of doubt that theirs is a strong party going into GE14 and the need to arm themselves with a winning mentality as they go about canvassing for support for Umno and BN ahead of the election.
With Umno as the backbone, the Najib administration has a proven track record when it comes to delivering the goods through various initiatives crafted to ensure the wellbeing of Malaysia’s over 30 million population as well as the country’s prosperity.
Umno leaders including at the grassroots may well equip themselves with knowledge about these achievements with a view to disseminating them when they spread out to garner further support from the people towards the party and BN of which Najib is chairman.
But what would be more interesting for them is to hear how Najib has handled the slew of negative narrative about him and his administration over issues such as 1MDB, Goods and Services Tax (GST), Malaysia’s sovereignty vis-a-vis foreign investment, and alleged mismanagement of the country’s economy.
The Umno president may also take a swipe at his detractors over their sustained and well-coordinated efforts to discredit him and his government including by distorting facts and resorting to fake news, with the complicit involvement of international media at times.
It would be hard for him not to highlight the fact that the country will continue to be in a safe pair of hands with Umno and BN at the helm for another five-year term.
Najib has every reason to believe in Umno and BN’s ability to keep the promises of further stability and prosperity to the country, given the state of disarray the opposition is in right now with members fighting for different causes and agendas.
Despite all parameters such as economic growth, political stability, the country’s international standing and the state of the opposition appear to be in Umno and BN’s favour, it is worth reminding that the opposition will fight tooth and nail to deny the ruling coalition the satisfaction of a successful GE14 outing.
The Dec 5 to 9 Umno gathering kicks off on Tuesday with the closed-door Umno pre-council briefing (Majlis Taklimat Presiden) followed by the simultaneous opening of the Wanita, Youth and Puteri general assemblies.
A special Umno supreme council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday while the opening of the 2017 Umno general assembly is slated for Thursday.
A number of side events have been organised in conjunction with the Umno general assembly, such as the National Student Leadership Conference 2017 (Pemanas 5.0), Kuala Lumpur International Youth Discourse, International Conference on Women in Politics 2017 and those related to Umno Overseas Clubs.