Musa: Party has lost its popularity

The Star, October 23, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno is in dire need of a drastic change and young blood with new ideas are the plausible solution, said former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam.

“I understand that the experience of seniors are needed for top posts like president or vice- president, but other than that, they should choose the younger ones,” he said.

Musa said the party had been raising the same issues which were raised 20 or 30 years ago, and bickering about emotional rather than substantial issues, such as the economy.

“Umno is already over 61 years old and is experiencing penyakit tua (old age sickness) which cannot be remedied by senior citizens but rather the younger generation with new ideas,” he said after launching the Bridges — Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace forum here yesterday.

He also claimed that Umno was “too introverted” by focusing on its own problems and looking for acceptance among its own members, but not the rakyat, whose perceptions would determine its future.

“It is important for Umno to realise that it has lost its popularity because of public opinion. The party has many problems that it cannot rectify, like corruption, accountability issues and abuse of power,” he said.

“The new generation will not accept wholesale what politicians are saying because they don’t accept the politicians,” he said.

Musa believed that certain politicians were fighting for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of the larger community.

“What the nation wants is a party that is sensitive to their needs and is one step ahead of the citizens’ thinking,” he said.

“These are hard words, I know, but I will only say it once. When I say it, I mean it and I’ve been thinking long and hard about it,” said Musa.

Iranian Nobel prize winner won’t be speaking at forum


PETALING JAYA: Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr Shirin Ebadi will not be speaking at the Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace forum which begins on Nov 3.

Universiti Malaya (UM), which is hosting the event, said Ebadi was invited to speak at the forum but it has now decided against it after the Foreign Ministry advised the organisers to retract the invitation in a letter dated Sept 10.

Instead, the university would now focus on a chemistry lecture by another Nobel laureate Professor Dr Ryoji Noyori, said vice-chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim in a statement.

She added that the university, however, did not receive any directive to cancel the peace forum.

UM had written to the ministry to seek its views on inviting Ebadi on Sept 3. The ministry replied in a letter signed by the Middle East and North Africa division secretary Dr Hasrul Sani Mujtabar advising it to withdraw its invitation to preserve the close ties between Malaysia and Iran.

The letter, made available to The Star, said it was not wise to invite Ebadi as the Iranian Government viewed her as a critic supporting “Western agenda”.

UM faxed the ministry’s letter to other local organisers of the forum, the International Islamic University Malaysia and Asian Strategic Leadership Institute.

Ebadi is the first Muslim woman to have been awarded the prize and is known for championing democracy and human rights for women, children and refugees.

Eminent Persons Group (EPG), Indonesia-Malaysia Relations chairman Tun Musa Hitam declined to comment on the issue.

The peace forum, which features a series of talks by Nobel laureates, will be held from November to April next year in Malaysia and Thailand.