Malaysia

Najib rebuts Dr Mahathir on Umno deathbed claim

Datuk Seri Najib Razak has disagreed with former Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that the Malay party is dying.

In a rebuttal to Dr Mahathir's claim that "Umno is an old man on its deathbed", the prime minister maintained that Umno has proved to be dynamic and remains the backbone of the Barisan Nasional.

Najib's statement comes in the wake of the recent stinging criticism from Dr Mahathir who argued that the party leaders were aging and out of touch with the times.

Najib, who will defend his presidency at the party's election next month, however, pointed out that Umno's performance in the 13th general election, where it won 88 parliamentary seats, was an improvement over its performance in 2008 when it took only 79 seats.

"Umno continues to be the bastion of BN," he said at a press conference after opening a law conference in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

Najib said the party leadership is trying to improve Umno by strengthening its value systems such as fighting for party's interests, rejecting money politics and taking an interest in the people's well-being.

Writing in last Sunday's edition of Utusan Malaysia, Dr Mahathir described Umno as “ailing”, saying it lacked young blood.

The former prime minister lamented that the “once robust party leaders were now aged and out of touch with the times", and called on party leaders not to overstay their welcome.

“Umno is suffering from old age and will soon meet its demise. This is human nature. Sooner or later, humans will meet their death,” Dr Mahathir wrote, insisting that his criticims was for the benefit of the party.

His comments were slammed by Umno supreme council member Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, who said the party's present problems started during Dr Mahathir's long tenure as president from 1981 to 2003. - September 19, 2013.

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