KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Saturday reminded all Barisan Nasional (BN) component party leaders that it was pointless for them to be popular only among party members but not among the people, to the extent of losing their support.
Najib, who is the BN chairman, said in a parliamentary democracy, the people had the absolute power and it was they who determined the BN's fate in every election.
"Whether we are leaders of Umno, MCA, MIC or other BN component parties... we should ask ourselves whether we are popular among the people and not just among party members.
"If we are popular among party members, we can win party posts, but whether our party is relevant or not, it depends on our ability to win the hearts of the people to support the BN," he said when opening the 63rd MIC Annual General Assembly at the Dewan Merdeka, Putra World Trade Centre, here.
"It is for this reason that Umno, MCA, MIC and other BN component parties should remember to see things from this perspective, for if we forget, we will be punished by people during elections," he said.
Also present was Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
In a spirited speech that was greeted with thunderous applause from the 1,464 MIC delegates and over 1,000 party members and observers, Najib said the people of today were much more well-informed owing to the policies of the BN government.
"The minds of the people are wide open. That is why, to be a party that is relevant, and for the BN to be relevant and continue to be relevant, we must be connected to the rakyat. We must keep in touch with the people... when we are in touch with them, we will get the their support," he said.
The prime minister also said that if BN leaders made it a practice to visit the grassroots often and to be humble to the people, "we will never lose anything."
"I have given a clear signal that this is the approach that we should take because BN is a good product," he said.
Najib also stressed that it was important for BN leaders to demonstrate the kind of leadership valued by the people.
"The people hate us if we are arrogant, despise us if we show off our wealth and adore us if we truly fight for their causes," he said.
Najib also said that to be close to the people, he introduced the "walkabout" concept which he started in Petaling Street, Lembah Pantai and Brickfields on the third day after he became the prime minister.
"I enjoyed it because I can be with the people of Malaysia. If I, as the prime minister can do it, other leaders can also do it. Go down, be with the people, be humble and be simple," he said.
Najib also said that the BN was an institution and a political structure that had done a lot of good deeds to the people since the era of the Alliance Party, and stressed that only through an political institution like the BN could the country be developed as a successful nation state.
"BN is not a 'marriage of convenience'. It is a political structure based on political unity," he said.
In his speech, Najib also spelled out the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for the MIC -- to regain the support of the Indian community which it lost in the 12th general election last year.
He called on MIC leaders and members to work diligently and "to refrain from doing what should not be done."
"Go down, serve the Indian people, serve the people of Malaysia. Be loyal servants to the people," he said to the cheers of those presence at the event.
The MIC lost six out of nine parliamentary seats it contested in the last election, including the Sungai Siput seat held by MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.
The party also lost 12 out of 19 state seats, largely attributed to the dwindling support among the Indian community.
Referring to Samy Vellu's speech earlier, Najib said he had fulfilled almost all of what the MIC president had requested for the Indian community.
This includes allocating RM100 million for Tamil schools, RM15 million for the Tekun fund, RM20 million for skills training and RM1 billion of allocation each for the Amanah Saham Wawasan and Amanah Saham 1Malaysia.
Najib said the government would continue to give more assistance and allocation of fund to develop the Indian community but stressed that members of the community should also reciprocate in one way or another by giving support to the government.
"We have given a lot and we will continue (to give). But we need the Indian community to respond, to show that you are with the BN," he said, a remark that prompted a standing ovation among the delegates and observers.
The prime minister also called on the Indian community to be with other communities in turning Malaysia into a great nation under the BN government and to work together to achieve the 1Malaysia concept of "One People, One Nation and One Dream."
On the 1Malaysia concept, Najib said the government would be fair to all and that the concept was also based on the Malaysian constitution and Rukunegara (National Principles).
"We want to be fair to all; to be fair to all races is not only socially right, it is also very Islamic. Islam is a universal religion. Islam says be fair to all... it's in the eighth verse of the Surah Al-Maidah. If you dispute what I say, read the Quran, read the translation of the Quran," he said.
Najib also said that being fair was not about taking from the Malays and give it to others.
"Not at all. We have the wealth in the country, and we respect our constitution."
He also said that that poor people, irrespective of whether they are Malays, Chinese or Indians, should be assisted in line with the 1Malaysia concept.
"If we can do this, I believe we will be able to regain the people's support and restore the confidence in the BN, because the BN is a proven institution," he said.
The situation was very much different in the opposition pact which consisted of parties with conflicting ideologies, with one member pushing for a secular government, the other wanted a theocratic Islamic state while the stand of another was not clear, he said.
"They cannot really govern Malaysia... the are just making more promises," he said.
Najib also questioned the promises given by Pakatan leaders to the people of Kampung Buah Pala in Penang.
"In Kampung Buah Pala, who told the priest 'don't worry, if we win you will stay here forever'? Where is the leader who said this? Until now he has not shown his face there because he has not fulfilled his promises... his broken promises," he said.
Najib said the BN would not make promises it could not fulfil.
Meanwhile, Najib had the audience in stitches at the beginning of his speech when he spoke about Samy Vellu's statement several days ago that he (Samy Vellu) had a "hydrogen bomb", to which former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam replied by saying that he too had a bomb -- a "nuclear bomb."
"I heard of these bombs and asked the police bomb disposal unit to carry out a sweeping; and they said that there was no bomb in PWTC.
"So we can now proceed with the general assembly safely," he said. The audience responded with a hearty laughter.