KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wrapped up the Umno annual general assembly with a declaration that the party had always been fair to all.
"We want everyone to be with us, the Chinese, the Indians, the Kadazans and the rest, moving forward.
"But Umno must be at the helm because under us others can be assured of fairness. Under others, there is no assurance that the Malays can get justice," the Umno president said in an emotionally-charged winding up speech yesterday.
Najib said that Umno had always been considerate and only implemented what it thought was best for the country's development and national unity and justice.
Even during the implementation of the New Economic Policy, Umno never denied the rights of others or did anything detrimental to the economic growth of others, he said.
"We are fair to all. Do not accuse us of being racist, of being this and that.
"We have to do this (defending the economic position of the Malays) because this is our right," Najib said at the end of the five-day assembly.
He added that he understood the message sent by the delegates that the party must do its utmost to fulfil the bumiputra economic agenda.
Strengthening the economic position of the bumiputra was necessary to ensure lasting stability in the country as they made up 67 per cent of the population, Najib said.
"If the majority is sidelined, the situation will be grave. For the sake of social justice and long-term stability, we must ensure that the wealth of the country is shared equally," he added.
He also said that upgrading the bumiputra economy was a national agenda and part of the key performance index for chief executive officers of all Government-linked companies.
"We will see at the end of the year if their score cards are good. If they are, then they can continue," he said.
At a press conference later, the Prime Minister said the commitment of Umno and the Government to boosting the economy of bumiputras was not about rewarding Malay voters, but about doing what is right.
"We can't sideline the majority of the population," he said, adding that the implementation of the NEP had benefited other races as well.
Najib told the assembly that Umno would change its constitution to strengthen the status of Islam as the religion of the federation in line with the Federal Constitution.
In the amendment, he said Islam would also be defined as the teaching of Sunnah Waljamaah.
Asked later if the definition would be included in the Federal Constitution, Najib said this would require the consent of the Conference of Rulers and two-thirds majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.
Amid cheers to his question of "Where would the Malays be without Umno," Najib reiterated that the transformation of the party would continue for it to be relevant in the new political landscape.
"Umno must be a party for the future, not merely content to be proud of its past achievements," Najib told the delegates representing 3.4 million members.