Monday September 20, 2004

PM: Time to assess Malay agenda

PETALING JAYA: The time has come to assess the Malay agenda in the context of a multi-racial society and decide what it should be, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
He said it would be good for the Malays to measure their accomplishments with others who have been more successful.
He said the issue of the Malay agenda would arise when the Malays measure their success against others.
“We ask why do we still fail? Why can't we be as successful as others?” he said, adding that such questions would make the Malays strive harder.
Abdullah said the Malays have to think of an agenda for all times.
The Malay agenda started with the New Economic Policy which people related to as the agenda even though it was never official.
“The Malay agenda is in the minds of the Malays after seeing all the assistance given by the Government to ensure the success of the policy.
“We have reached this stage.
“We must now think of the steps to take not necessarily by way of what we have been doing because the Malays now are far more capable than in the 1970s,” he said in an exclusive interview with Mingguan Malaysia.
Abdullah said he has the heavy responsibility of changing attitude and lifting the socio-economic status of the Malays.
“When I listened to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad openly admit that he had failed in changing the attitude of the Malays, I told myself, 'Wah, this looks like it will become my task',” he said.
Asked whether he had any idea of what he had to do to change the people's attitude, Abdullah said he wanted to bring all Malaysians forward.
“I have already called for people's work ethics to include the goal of achieving excellence and glory, so that we will achieve distinction.”
He said he constantly asked himself why it was so difficult to change the Malays.
“What are we changing for? We have to change so that we can be strong, competitive, independent and capable of facing any challenges.”
He said the Malays might have found themselves in a very comfortable situation today because they had been given a lot of facilities and help so much they did not face any difficulties.
Nevertheless, Abdullah said, changing the attitude could not be done in a short time.
“Are the Malays still in their own world, doing things so that they would look good? Or should the change come in the form of competition?” he said.
Abdullah said his job as Umno president would be extremely challenging because of the responsibility of leading the Malays and to look after the interests of the other races.
“As Umno president, I will also be Barisan Nasional chairman and this makes me a leader of a coalition made up of various ethnic groups.”
Abdullah, who is the incoming Umno president, admitted he would face many hurdles while carrying out his job as party president, especially those concerning national unity.
Others included education, economy, national security and political stability, he said.
Abdullah said it was important that Umno knew which direction it was heading and what it had to do to move in that direction.
“Maybe we are a little slow and there are people who want to carry out reforms. But it is always easier said that done,” he said.
Asked whether Malays were too preoccupied with concocting conspiracy theories, Abdullah said with a laugh that it could be because these people had a lot of time on their hands.
“If there is time to come up with conspiracy theories, to write long 'flying' letters and to send SMSes to thousands of people, would it not have been better for the time to be spent improving oneself?”

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