DATUK Seri Najib Tun Razak took advantage of the unexpected appearance of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and used the opportunity to help mend fences between the former Prime Minister and his successor Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Bringing in Umno delegates as his ally, the new Umno president said the party needed the two statesmen to sit together with him and discuss the problems and the future of the party and country.
"I am very happy to see another statesman, Tun Dr Mahathir in our assembly and I am trying to interpret his attendance. I believe he is with Umno in blood and soul.
"No doubt the first meeting might be a little awkward but with time the warmth will return because what is important is the party and the country.
"What is important is not one's personal feelings but the future of the party. If the statesmen show a good example and close ranks, those below will follow suit," he said to cheers and applause in his inaugural speech at closing of the Umno general assembly.
Najib said the members could be inspired by getting such a signal from its two statesmen.
The incoming Prime Minister said Umno was facing a lot of challenges and if the two veteran leaders could be together in the struggle, give their ideas privately and not criticise publicly, that would be for the good of the party.
Dr Mahathir handed over the Prime Minister post and Umno presidency to Abdullah in 2003 but later things became sour when Abdullah dismantled some of Dr Mahathir's policies which turned Dr Mahathir into the chief critic of the Abdullah administration.
Najib said the assembly this time was historic and also very touching because Umno was bidding farewell to its Abdullah as party president.
He paid a tribute to Abdullah whom he said he had known since his father, Tun Razak's time and over the years they had forged a close relationship.
"I am grateful because Pak Lah has allowed a smooth transition for me to take over the party and government,
"I know it is not easy to let go of such a high post as if a division chief finds it hard to quit," he said.
Touching on the newly elected team, Najib said he had known his deputy Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin in the Youth wing and quipped that he had told the Johor leader to smile a bit more.
"I am confident he has the capability to be a good deputy," he said while also saying that he had no problems working with his new three vice presidents, the Youth, Wanita, Puteri chiefs and the supreme council.
He also praised those who were disqualified or lost in the elections but continued to loyally serve like Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib.
He said the clarion had been sounded and Umno should raise the flag and continue its struggle and Umno will prevail.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
Najib seeks to bring Abdullah and Mahathir together
Healing process: Past and present Umno presidents joining hands in a show of unity during the last day of the party's 59th general assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (centre), accompanied by his wife, Tun Siti Hasmah Ali, walked in unexpectedly when newly-elected deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was delivering his winding-up speech. The couple was given a rousing welcome by the delegates who stood up to show their appreciation.