Islam should lead, says Zahid in first policy speech at Umno congress

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi delivers his policy speech as he opens the Umno general assembly at PWTC today.

KUALA LUMPUR: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he supported PAS’ slogan that Islam should be the supreme power in governing Malaysia, as Umno welcomed top PAS leaders to its general assembly today, its first since losing federal power last May.

“Personally, I support PAS’ slogan that Islam should lead,” Zahid said in his presidential address at the Putra World Trade Centre tonight, his first policy speech after taking over as party president last June.

Zahid said it did not mean Umno would embrace narrow nationalism and racism.

But he said the party also rejected any call for equal treatment of all races as espoused by the “Malaysian Malaysia” concept.

“When we are challenged with ‘Malaysian Malaysia’, we will rise to defend our rights as stated in the constitution,” he said, referring to a slogan often linked to DAP.

Zahid reserved a good part of his speech to attack Umno MPs who resigned from the party in the aftermath of the May 9 polls, and vowed to take legal action to recover money spent for their election campaigns under the Barisan Nasional (BN) banner.

“They no longer have the moral basis to remain as elected representatives. The seats belong to Umno. The seats belong to Barisan Nasional supporters,” he said.

He said the party had already served writs of summons to elected representatives who switched sides or chose to become independents.

Zahid said that there was little the party could do to stop its elected representatives from leaving the party.

“We demand them to return the money involving costs and they should also vacate the seats that they won under the Umno and BN ticket,” he said.

Earlier, he praised Umno MPs and assemblymen who remained with the party despite being “seduced” to switch sides.

“Stand up, those of you MPs and assemblymen who are still with Umno. Let us stand up and pay tribute to these heroes of Umno,” said Zahid to thunderous applause from delegates.

Zahid opened his speech by paying tribute to his predecessor Najib Razak.

But he said he was aware of the context of the Umno meeting this time.

“I am the first president of Umno to deliver the policy speech as an opposition leader,” he said.

Zahid said although Umno was today like a damaged ship “sailing in the rough seas”, he was confident of the party returning to power “in the very near future”.

“Or after the 15th general election,” he quickly added.

He welcomed senior PAS leaders who attended the Umno assembly, including PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and PAS Youth chief Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi, who is also the son of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

Zahid said Umno had found an ally in PAS, and rejected suggestions that the party open its membership to non-Malays.

“Umno does not need to open its membership to others to remain relevant,” he said.

“Malays had never been unjust or denied the rights of other races. We have always acted based on the Malay wisdom, and the principles of justice,” he said.