Musa: Party needs more young faces in posts

New Straits Times, October 23, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno needs a major face lift to attract youths as it is now seen as an aging party, former deputy president Tun Musa Hitam said yesterday.

He said it was time for the party to have more young faces with new ideas holding top positions.

“I like to see more fresh faces vying for the vice-president’s post, for instance,” Musa said.

“The two top posts, I guess, it is okay to have senior leaders. This does not mean that I am supporting them or otherwise.”

The former deputy prime minister said this after the media launch of the second ASEAN event series, “Bridges-Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace”, here.

Also present were ECM Libra Financial Group Bhd executive chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan and International Peace Foundation chairman Uwe Morawetz.

Musa said Umno had become “too introverted” focusing mainly on internal issues.

“I don’t see Umno as a party that is up-to-date or sensitive to outside matters.”

In this respect, he said, the party must wake up and offer ways to tackle issues affecting the people, instead of busying itself with internal matters.

What the people needed was a party that was sensitive and one step ahead of the thinking of the rakyat, he said.

“I know what I am saying is harsh. But I say it as I mean it, and I have thought about it long and hard,” said Musa, who is also the Malaysian chairman of the Bridges programme.

A chance to meet Nobel laureates at dialogues

Starting next month until April 2009, the Bridges programme will be held in different parts of Malaysia, involving the participation of Nobel Laureates for economics, peace, physics, chemistry and medicine as well as other eminent speakers.

Starting next month, anyone can have free access to the great minds of prominent personalities, including Nobel laureates in various fields.
This is made possible under the “Bridges” dialogue series called “Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace”.

It is a combination of cultural exchanges and dialogues for six months to promote peace. Malaysia is the first Muslim nation to host the event, which will end in April, before the programme moves on to Cambodia.

Malaysian “Bridges” programme chairman Tun Musa Hi- tam urged the public to grab the opportunity to meet those in the big league.

“It is education at its broadest sense. By enhancing science, technology and education as a basis for peace and development, they may lead to a better cooperation for the advancement of peace, freedom and security in the region with active involvement of the young generation,” he said at the media launching of the Bridges dialogue series yesterday.

Present were ECM Libra Financial Group Bhd executive chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Kalimullah Hassan and International Peace Foundation (IPF) chairman Uwe Morawetz.

Morawetz listed the keynote speakers, including 1999 Nobel Laureate for Physics, Professor Gerardus ‘t Hooft; 2003 Nobel Laureate for Economics, Professor Robert Fry Engle III; 1996 Nobel Laureate for Peace, Professor Jose Ramos-Horta and the US civil rights and political leader Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson.

On Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Iranian human rights activist Dr Shim Ebadi, who had been barred from delivering public lectures following pressure from the Iranian authorities, Morawetz said: She will not be attending (the Bridges programme).”

He said reporters would have to refer to the Iranian authorities to get further comments. Shirin was scheduled to give her talks on Nov 3 and 4.

Under the programme, Nobel laureates, politicians and artists from across the world will conduct lectures, seminars, workshops and dialogues in partnership with Malaysian institutions to strengthen ties.

The event is facilitated by the Vienna-based IPF.

Details about the programme can be found at