IT was a simple event tonight. An “Umno Bantu Rakyat” programme in a Malay enclave in the heart of the city.
But this simple event showed how deep Malay sentiments still run for Umno. And nobody knows this better than the party president.
At the SK Taman Kosas school field, Najib Razak reminded the thousands of Malays gathered there of Umno’s contributions to them and the country.
“Who builds the schools? Who pays teachers’ salaries? Who provides computer labs? Aren’t these Umno’s contributions to the people?” said the prime minister.
He said Umno also subsidised the cost of the pilgrimage and made sure the cost did not exceed RM10,000 for each traveller.
“Every person who performs the pilgrimage is receiving a RM10,000 subsidy, and this doesn’t include the pilgrimage programme under 1MDB, which is free for imams,” said Najib.
“This is our way to serve the rakyat. Tomorrow, I will go to Riyadh to meet King Salman and I will hug him because he gives special quotas to Malaysia. Many people manage to perform the pilgrimage today because of Umno’s struggles,” he said.
After his speech, Najib handed out aid to orphans, single mothers, and the poor, with the assistance of Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Selangor Umno chief Noh Omar.
He did not address the 1Malaysia Development Bhd allegations thrown his way by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the opposition. But it was hardly necessary.
Maimun from Ampang said she admired Najib’s leadership, although there were many allegations hurled against him.
“Every leader in this world makes mistakes, but to me he is still a good leader and I don’t care what people say about Najib,” the 78-year-old Umno member said.
“Yes, Dr Mahathir was a good and smart leader but my loyalty is to Umno. Because of his son, he’s willing to do what he does now; because he wants his son to be the leader,” she said, adding that she used to hold Dr Mahathir in high regard.
N. Rajasegaran, a 36-year-old driver, said Najib was his hero because his administration helped many low-income people.
“When Najib became the prime minister, I received BR1M and he helped me to get a house in Kampung Pandan when we had land ownership issues. Now the developer will give us a house for free,” he said.
“He is my hero. Yes, we have GST but the tax is good for the development of our country.
Najib and Umno’s critics may say the party is bankrupt of ideas and talent. But these critics may not know how deep the party’s reserves go.