KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 (Bernama) — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tonight stressed that Umno, as the umbrella party of the Malays and Bumiputera which has existed for more than six decades, will continue to champion their cause without depriving the rights and interests of the other communities.
The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out at the same time that Umno would never compromise on any attempt to jeopardise the faith of Muslims in the country when there was an organised attempt to dismantle Islamic institutions and principles in the country.
“Thus, Umno as the defender of Islam takes a strong stand in rejecting all demands that contradict Islamic principles,” he said when simultaneously opening the general assemblies of the Umno Wanita, Youth and Puteri movements in conjunction with the 2013 Umno General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here Tuesday night.
Muhyiddin, who is also the Umno deputy president, also lashed out at the groups who frequently accused that the government purportedly did not practice the principles of equitability in religious matters which were fundamental in a democratic society.
These included the action by the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango) that lobbied foreign nations to pressure Malaysia to comply with the principles of human rights without limitation in the report which was submitted for scrutiny in the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review for Malaysia in Geneva, Switzerland recently.
“Purportedly, in the name of globalisation, human rights and democracy, Muslims are forced to accept the concept of unbridled individual freedom, recognition of same sex and inter-religious marriage, the right to apostasy, deviationist teachings, gay and lesbian lifestyle and various other unacceptable culture,” Muhyiddin said.
He said such demands were clear examples of the existence of the attempts to promote deviationist elements in the name of unbridled freedom in the country.
He asked the audience whether they were willing to allow foreigners to force upon them their concept of freedom that went against Islam that would jeopardise their belief.
In this connection, he suggested that Lifelong Islamic Education be made a major national policy in the bid to further strengthen the Islamic faith among Muslims.
To this end, he said, there was a need for the federal government and state Islamic religious councils to mull on the possibility of establishing community-level Islamic teaching centres to enable Muslims to deepen their knowledge of the religion.
The Umno deputy president also welcomed the involvement of Islamic organisations in this initiative.
On the agenda to further empower the Malays and Bumiputera, he said Umno would continue to shoulder this heavy burden as long as the party received the people’s support.
Noting that this was an ongoing effort, Muhyiddin said those who doubted Umno’s resolve to promote the Bumiputera agenda should know that the party would not be easily overwhelmed by changes taking place currently.
He noted that thanks to Umno’s struggles all this while, the economic status of the Malays and Bumiputera had improved including in terms of reducing Bumiputera poverty rate from 64.8 per cent in 1970 to 2.2 per cent in 2012.
On abject poverty, the rate had also fallen from 9.9 per cent to 0.9 per cent within the same period, while the monthly average income of Bumiputera households had increased from RM172 to RM4,457. Bumiputera equity ownership had also jumped significantly from 2.4 per cent to 23.5 per cent.
Muhyiddin said the Umno struggle to raise Bumiputera participation in the economy would be intensified with the implementation of the Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak recently.
“It will be pointless for Malaysia to become a developed country if the Malays and Bumiputera were denied their fair share of the country’s economic pie,” he said.
Meanwhile, there were many principles of equitability that needed to be preserved such as balancing the position of Islam as the federal religion as well as the rights of individual to practice their respective religion in peace and harmony.
Muhyiddin said the special position of the Malays and Bumiputera must be balanced with the rights of citizenship of the other ethnic groups as well as the guarantee to protect the rights of all races, besides the position of the Malay language as the national language which must be balanced with the rights of all races to learn their own mother tongue.
“Not all these principles of equitability contained in the Constitution are in line with Western ideas on freedom. But we need not be apologetic because these principles are important to ensure harmony in the relations between people of various races and religions in our country,” he explained.