Tuesday, October 28, 2008

ISDEV LECTURE SERIES VII IN THE NEWS-1


By: Himanshu Bhatt
Date : Wed, 22 Oct 2008

Muhyiddin calls for BN revamp

GEORGE TOWN (Oct 21, 2008) : Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has called for the format of Barisan Nasional (BN) to be revamped to make component parties officially work together in serving communities across the racial divide.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin giving his talk on Malay-Islamic politics at USM.

He said the ruling coalition needed to be reformed at national, state and divisional levels to change the public’s perception of it being racially segregated, in order to help it in the next general election. This would entail having one BN office in each division, with representatives of component parties tackling community problems together, not on basis of race but by interacting with everyone.

“Then you create a picture of a new BN where everybody helps each other. It is not just on racial lines,” said Muhyiddin, who is contesting the post of Umno deputy president at the party's polls in March. “It would make BN more acceptable as a party that fights for every race on an equal footing.”

Muhyiddin, who is also International Trade and Industry Minister, said this at a press conference after giving a talk on Malay-Islamic politics at Dewan Budaya, USM. The event was organised by the Centre for Islamic Development Management Studies (ISDEV). Muhyiddin lamented that under the BN’s current “loose” format, parties only worked together during times like election periods.

“After that each component party acts on its own. MCA goes its own way, Umno goes its own way, MIC goes its own way. It does not seem as if we are working as one party together. “If there is a Chinese problem, it should not be left entirely with the MCA to deal with the problem. Umno must also come and help the Chinese,” he said. “When you have an Indian problem, don’t just leave it to MIC. Umno and MCA can also deal with it because we share a common vision.”

He said this was more important than the issue of posts within BN, which was recently brought up when MCA asked to be given a BN deputy chairman’s seat. Muhyiddin stressed there that the present set-up had worked well since BN was formed in 1974. “There is a history behind why the posts of chairman and deputy chairman are held by Umno, and why the heads of other component parties become vice-chairmen,” he said,

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (C) after delivering his talk on Malay-Islamic politics at USM. With him are Prof Muhammad Syukri Salleh (Left), Director of the Centrefor Islamic Development Management Studies.

“Many younger Malaysians are not in the know what this social contract is all about,” he said. “And yet they have to respect this very important component in our constitution that has been achieved after consensus among the founding fathers. “Maybe there is a need to explain, but the way you do it must be properly done.”

“To say that you cannot express your views or what-not because your post is only of a vice-chairman is not correct,” he said. Muhyiddin also denied that the social contract in the Federal Constitution, which was recently upheld by the Conference of Rulers, has outlived its time. He lamented, however, that the new generation of Malaysians was ignorant about what the constitution had spelt out on the positions of the various races, Malay and non-Malay alike.

He said there was a need to make youngsters understand the historical context, and that it should be made a part of university curriculum. The programme should be aimed at explaining the social contract, not question it, he said.

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