PAU2020: Exclusive with UMNO Secretary-General

THE UMNO General Assembly (PAU) 2020 this weekend will not only create history for being held face to face and virtual but is attracting the attention of many parties following its two important political decisions recently.
Secretary-General Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan reaffirmed this during an exclusive interview with UMNO-Online. Excerpts:
Question: The assembly will be different from the previous ones because it is planned during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). How is the preparation at this stage?
Answer: Alhamdulillah, thanks God The Almighty that the National Security Council (MKN) and also the police have given their approvals for us to hold a general assembly on March 27-28. These are long-awaited approvals, and with that there are no obstacles for us to implement it, even in the Federal Territory which is still under CMCO.
Whatever it is, we will abide by allSOPs (standard operating procedures). This is historic since the assembly will be held face to face and virtually for the first time in the party’s 75 years history.
Face to face conference will be at Dewan Merdeka World Trade Centre (WTC) and we also Dewan Tun Hussein Onn, apart from Dewan Tun Dr Ismail. There will be delegates from 190 divisions for face to face conferences here. The rest can watch it ‘live’ on FB channel at their respective divisions. The Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri conference will be on Saturday March 27.
This is something unique and unprecedented in PAU’s 75 -year history.
Question: At this time around, PAU has also withdrawn the interest of others outside the party. How does Datuk Seri see the ‘mood’ among party leadership and the grassroots themselves.
Answer: Our two big decisions recently are the main attention. The motions of 124 divisions or representing 65 per cent of the (Tanah Merah division is still under suspension) brings jitters to many. Its about their refusal to cooperate with PPBM in the 15th general election. Second, our support for Perikatan Nasional will cease once the Parliament is dissolved.
Due to the gravity of it, PAU this time is the focus of many parties because it will decide the future of domestic politics in the next few months. I hope the atmosphere is under control as we give freedom to Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri reps to speak freely on Sunday. This includes the policy speeches from Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri Chief and also our President.
Certainly they will touch on matters related to politics, economic, social, religious, education, international and current issues regarding COVID-19, the people’s predicaments and others.
Question: UMNO seems to be facing bigger challenges after GE14. What is your take on that?
Answer: I had mentioned several times if the president and his deputies are in the spirit of togetherness, the party will remain strong. Down the history, we have seen how Tun Dr Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim were at odds, causing the party to split. Anwar set up PKR, which later on saw his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali left the party for PPBM.
So is PAS when the president and his deputy are not on the same page which prompted Mohamad Sabu setting up Parti Amanah Negara. I think as long as number one and number two are on the same turf, the party will encounter no major problems. Its undeniable that we are free from outsiders’ bad disposition but we have faith in the President and his deputy. With them around, I believe we can get through it.
Question: Talk about challenges, how does Datuk Seri see evaluate it?
Answer: Anything decided by the MKT (Supreme Working Council) is made democratically by the President. I joined all the big meetings and the President established what is called the Political Bureau comprising a management committee and 13 state liaison chairmen.
This is how wise the President is. The two major decisions derived at ILMU Janda Baik are very testimonial. No one objected it and it was not disputed. Those one or two people opposing it actually have the intention to weaken the party and break us apart.
Question: The assembly is also seen as a preparation for the next GE. Don’t you think so?
Answer: Yes, we have to prepare for GE-15. From the government statements, we can deduce specific dates. Whatever it is, it has to be conducted called or later. At least, when the current 5-year term ends, its time for election. We must be prepared, and UMNO must win most seat this time on.
Question: How do you want UMNO to be portrayed?
Answer: COVID-19 is already a year, and our main concern is the people. UMNO must be seen as championing the cause of the people. That is why we have been going around assisting and listening to them. We care for them, we defend their rights and interests. I want UMNO to become a place for the people seek solace.
Our priority is always the people. They are what the party is championing for, nothing else. We have ears to listen, we want to ensure that their predicaments and their voices are well-carried across. This is our ultimate struggle. We even went to the extent of amending the party’s Constitution to make it better, and it will be brought to PAU for approval by the RoS (Registrar of Societies).
Hopefully with the new amended Constitution, UMNO will be more inclusive and enhance in its struggle for the people.
Question: What is your hope and and message to the grassroots at this PAU2020?
Answer: When we battled the 22-month regime of Pakatan Harapan, we were quite persistent. Internal bickering was put behind. Our common enemy then was PH. We are solid and determined. That’s how solid were were because internal fighting will be more painful than going against the real political enemy.
Therefore, I would like to call on the UMNO leadership that since we have been in the party for a long time, knowing how internal fighting can weaken and split the party, its time to close ranks and be together again. No matter who or what, its time to move forward as one.
Its all written in the lines of our palms. We had governed the country before and were given good positions and opportunities. However, when we discard the leadership and go our own way, we took a tumble. So, let’s become party loyalists and abide by the majority decision.
I hope this can be realised by all. Put it at heart…