Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said today Umno is a political party that can also flourish in Malaysia’s urban areas.
The Umno president said the party’s success in Johor Baru, for example, proved that the nation's largest Malay-based political party continues to receive the people’s support even though the city had undergone a rapid urbanisation process.
“I’m very impressed with the success of Johor Baru Umno because in the political history of our country, if there is an urbanisation phenomenon, demographic change and rapid development in any city, sooner or later, the (administration of the) city will be transferred from Umno or BN to the opposition.
“There is no state capital that has remained as Umno-BN constituency, but congratulations to Johor Baru Umno for being able to balance the urbanisation process and retain Umno-BN’s power.
“Based on this fact, if anyone should say that Umno is a ‘village people or rural folks political party’, then Johor Baru Umno has proved them wrong.
“The support for Umno does not necessarily come from rural areas only because the party can indeed flourish in urban areas.”
Najib said this when opening the Johor Baru Umno division delegates conference.
Also present were Johor Umno liaison committee chairperson Mohamed Khaled Nordin and Johor Baru Umno division chief Shahrir Abdul Samad.
The prime minister said Johor Baru Umno’s success could also become an exemplary model and a template of Umno's approach in urban areas.
At the same time, Najib said Umno and BN should also be inclusive by not just focusing on the well-being of their members, but also the general public as a whole.
“We have to showcase Umno and BN as the parties capable of fulfilling the aspirations of city dwellers. We have to take care of the civil society, residents’ associations, mosques and those in guarded or gated community.
“We have to find a way to ensure that urban areas will not only provide great opportunities to those with a fat wallet, but also to the B40 group who have to live in big cities,” he said.
Meanwhile, Najib said Shahrir’s political principles were among the factors that had enabled Johor Baru to remain as Umno and BN’s stronghold.
He said Shahrir, who is also Johor Baru MP, is strongly committed to serving the people and organising various community programmes, including by successfully turning the Kilang Bateri area into a commercial centre for young entrepreneurs, hence making it a new attraction in the constituency.
“Shahrir may or may not agree with this, but the ‘Shahrir Factor’ has indeed helped Umno and BN to retain power in Johor Baru.
“Use any symbol and he (Shahrir) will win. He can even win by using a fish symbol, or even a key symbol. That is why as the party president, I have high hope that he will not retire from politics,” Najib said, adding that he also believed that Shahrir, who is also Felda chairperson, would bring more development to Felda settlements.
At the event, Najib, who is also finance minister, also approved an allocation of RM2 million to the Johor Baru City Foundation for the construction of a community hall in Kampung Datuk Onn.
He said he would also look into Shahrir’s proposal for the 24-hectare land in Kampung Kastam, Larkin, to be utilised for the construction of affordable houses.