Be prepared to face by-elections, says Najib

Special celebration: Najib and Muhyiddin greeting Umno leaders and members upon arrival at the Putra World Trade Centre for the party's 68th anniversary celebration.

KUALA LUMPUR - Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has called on its members to give its full commitment and dedication as the coalition prepares to face several by-elections.

"We will be facing one or two by-elections soon and our deputy chairman and his committee have prepared the right strategies for it.

"There will be short and long-term challenges but if we have enough love and care for the party, as well as commitment and dedication, and InsyaAllah ... I think Umno and Barisan will continue to succeed," he said in his opening remarks during Umno's 68th anniversary celebration at the Putra World Trade Centre here yesterday.

The Election Commission has set May 31 as the polling day for the Teluk Intan by-election while May 25 has been determined as the Bukit Gelugor by-election.

Najib, who is also the Umno president, said the party was facing a new environment and must be prepared to look at its strength, as well as, be prepared to make improvements on its weaknesses.

"For instance, in this new political reality, Umno cannot just maintain its strong support in the rural areas, but must take the initiative to win the hearts of the urban, semi urban and those urban villagers who are staying in urban areas but vote in the rural areas," he said.

He also noted that Umno must be more open in welcoming more intellectuals and professionals within its rank.

"Have we given the intellectuals enough opportunity to join us or have we made it hard for them to join us so they can also serve the community?

"We also must be able to attract more ulama (muslim scholars) as it is important to help champion and chart the future of Islam," said Najib.

He said Umno leaders must be well-equipped and continue to win the hearts of the younger generation, especially in cyberspace.

"We must remember that the social media, which is considered a neutral platform, is vital as those who managed to colour the platform will get the most influence.

"It is not about how many bloggers we have but we must understand that it's their influence that matters most," he said.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and other Barisan Nasional component party leaders.

At the event, Tan Sri Hassan Azhari and Tan Sri Dr Salma Ismail were honoured as Tokoh Melayu Terbilang 2014.