Tuesday, April 27, 2004

"Fortunate to have Mahathir"

DAILY EXPRESS NEWS


Fortunate to have Mahathir, says PM
27 April, 2004

Kuala Lumpur: Umno paid tribute to former Prime Minister and Umno President Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali at a special dinner, here, Monday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who was present at the dinner at the Putra World Trade Centre, said in his speech that Dr Mahathir had made much sacrifice for the development of the party and country.

“He is still serving (the country) because it is in his blood to contribute ideas for the development of the country and the Malays in particular,” said Abdullah, who is also acting Umno President.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Umno Sec-Gen Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob and almost all the party leaders as well as more than 2,000 Umno members.

Abdullah said Dr Mahathir had handed over Umno to him when the party was strong and this strength would be preserved.

He said Umno was getting stronger today and this had been proven at the last general election where Umno candidates had won many seats.

“We must manage our success well, just like we manage our failures. When chairing the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), Dr Mahathir used to say that we must find out the reason why certain things happen and thereafter find ways of improving it,” he said.

He said Umno was fortunate because since the party was formed, it had had good leaders who were credible and determined to bring development to the party and the Malays.

The Prime Minister said Umno members should thank Dr Mahathir who had made Umno stronger and more progressive and who had endeavoured to achieve the Vision 2020.

Abdullah called on Umno members to pledge to continue the success achieved by Dr Mahathir and he was confident that this would be the best gift to the country’s fourth PM.

He also thanked Dr Siti Hasmah who had looked after Dr Mahathir and assisted him in administering the country for 22 years.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir, who had led Umno for more than 22 years before his retirement in October last year, in his speech said he was touched by the dinner.

“Actually, tonight is meaningful as this is the first time I get to meet Umno leaders after the recent general election,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the election results also proved that Abdullah was a good leader who was capable of creating a brighter future for the country.

“When I wanted to step down, many people said that if I was not around, the Barisan Nasional (BN) would not get a landslide victory but I knew this was not true,” he said.

Stating that the BN had won 90 per cent of seats it contested, he joked: “If I had known this, I would have stepped down sooner”.

“The results clearly show that the rakyat support my successor and I hope Umno will continue to improve. I have no advice for Umno leaders facing party elections soon, but just a reminder that the party is bigger than the individual. Whatever we do, ensure that we prioritise the party,” he said.

Meanwhile, Khalil said during Dr Mahathir’s leadership of Umno from June 16, 1981 to Oct 31, 2003, the membership numbers rose from 872,796 to 2.81 million.

The number of divisions also rose from 114 to 191 and branches from 5,870 to 19,000 he said, adding that “in his time, Umno also penetrated Sabah in 1991 with 74,625 members”.

He added that by 2003, the number of Sabah Umno members had risen to 431,418.- Bernama