The Umno president says his party's track record proves it is still the best to lead the country.
He said Malaysians should learn from the violent Arab Spring where changes in governments – initially thought would improve things – pushed the countries into more chaos and instability.
The Umno president said his party is now striving to meet the growing call for change and, if fulfilled, would remain the best outfit to lead the country.
“Look at the countries in north Africa and the Middle East. We can learn from them that change is not always good,” he said at an Umno Hari Raya open house.
But Najib admitted that the sentiment for reform is strong among the voters who are more critical and demanding of those in power.
However, a change of government or the “current structure” is not necessary to achieve this.
Umno, he said, is realising the challenges it faces and is now working towards tailoring its focus to suit present needs.
“Again and again, in different eras with different challenges, we have shown that we have prevailed… we are a party with the courage to make changes,” he said.
Since taking office in 2009, Najib has embarked on a mission to win the sizeable moderate votes by pushing his conservative party to the centre with pledges of economic and political reforms.
Heed calls for change
Vows to dismantle decades-old race-based policies and abolishing laws curbing civil liberties had won him significant support, according to a recent survey, but opposition to his liberal policies remains strong from within his own party.
This is seen as one of the major reasons behind his move to delay polls. He was rumoured to have chosen an early date but has since postponed it to manage the friction in Umno.
Najib also urged the party to heed the calls for change and back his effort to push Malaysia into a high-income economy, which requires Umno to adopt a different and more open approach to governance.
Many of the country’s economic woes are blamed on the ruling party’s racially discriminative policies, but while admitting to this, Najib is still seen as pandering to the demands from Umno’s conservatives to ensure his own political survival.