More benefits in store for Malays with Umno in power, says Malaysia PM Najib

Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak gestures during his winding up speech at Dewan Merdeka on the last day of the Umno general assembly on Dec 3, 2016.
Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak gestures during his winding up speech at Dewan Merdeka on the last day of the Umno general assembly on Dec 3, 2016.PHOTO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak defended his government's record at protecting Malay interests at the close of the Umno general assembly, where the party had sought to warn the key votebank that the Opposition would dismantle pro-Malay and Islamic policies if it came to power.

The Umno president, who had on Thursday signalled that national elections would be held soon, ensured the ruling party that major carve-outs and aid for the Malay majority would continue under his economic programme, and political patronage expand should he remain in power.

Citing major projects including the High-Speed Rail to Singapore, a RM55 billion coast-to-coast train and an oil and gas hub in Pengerang, he said that in seven years, Malaysia's economy would grow by more than 50 per cent to RM2 trillion.

"Government revenue will also increase from RM210 billion today, to RM340 billion. It means if you come to me, I can close my eyes and sign off on your request. Today, if you give me a letter, I have to think first," he told the 2,700 delegates.

He also pointed out that at least 50 per cent of all retail space at the three Mass Rail Transit (MRT) lines planned for the Klang Valley would be reserved for Bumiputera (the term used for Malays and aboriginal tribes).

"When we have a large economy, all of us will enjoy it. We didn't name the package as a 'New Deal' for Malays but we have done it. Who says I am not committed to the Bumiputera?" he said.

The Premier also denied selling out the country to China, an accusation that gained traction after his visit last month saw a shocking RM144 billion worth of deals being agreed in Beijing.

Instead, he said that he encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping to buy more palm oil, a major Malaysian export, resulting in prices rising from RM2,300 to RM3,100 per tonne.

"Who benefits? The 550,000 smallholder and Felda," he said, referring to the government's plantation development agency for Malays.

He also promised that party leaders would be allowed to distribute the government's BR1M cash handout of up to RM1,200 by hand next year.

In his opening speech on Thursday, Datuk Seri Najib had alleged that the Opposition is now led by the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP), and named 10 Bumiputera and Islamic bodies which would be under threat should the Umno-led ruling coalition be defeated.