MalaysiaKini : KUALA LUMPUR: Umno president Najib Tun Razak today warned party members that factionalism would hurt the ruling party and urged them to unite as Umno faces a tough challenge to remain relevant to the voters.
The prime minister also dropped yet the strongest hint to date that national polls is near when he said party members not picked as candidates should not sulk but continue to serve Umno.
Even if this party is considered to be a party for the Malays its only in the absence of factionalism that we can become stronger, Najib told party members at Umnos 65th anniversary celebration at the PWTC here.
But he said the pledges of unity by members have not been translated into action and the ruling Malay party has remained divided until today.
There are still noises made here and there. There are still factions among us, he said, adding that he saw no point of celebrating the partys 65th anniversary if it was still split.
It is understood that Najib is likely to postpone plans for snap polls until the end of this year or early 2012 as his party aims to find funds to finance a campaign to court Bumiputera and Indian voters in a bid to secure a two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Umnos coffers were said to have been depleted after the party spent some RM500 million for the Barisan Nasional (BN) campaign in the April 16 Sarawak election.
It was reported today that BN will meet on Friday to prepare for an election dry run with federal polls expected to be called within a year.
High quality brand
Umno secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said a paper on the dry run would be ta! bled bef ore the supreme council, given that polls would likely be held after the Umno party elections in July.
We are likely to touch on the Sarawak (state) election performance, analyse the election results, and discuss voter registration. I will be putting up the paper for the election dry runs, Tengku Adnan, the Putrajaya MP, was quoted as saying.
As Umno prepares for elections, Najib asked party leaders today if they have done enough to recapture voters support after the partys dismal performance in the 2008 general election.
Have you gone down to the ground enough? Have you been spending enough time with the people? he asked, to which the floor said: No.
If no, then we must make a pledge now, tonight, that we shall increase our efforts to get the rakyat closer to us, said the Umno president.
Najib added that Umno still retained its high quality brand among the voters as it has a superb service track record.
While Umnos popularity among the Malay majority remains unchallenged, the party has struggled to convince non-Malay voters of its plural agenda in the face of hawkish elements who continue to undermine Najibs efforts to unite a racially divided nation under his 1Malaysia banner.
Observers say it is impossible for Najib to regain its two-thirds parliamentary majority as the Chinese continue to shun away from BN.
The coalitions Chinese partner, the MCA, was battered in the last the general election, having won only 15 from the 40 parliamentary seats it contested.