KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — Umno’s image of being against the Chinese community was the outcome of “perception politics” used by the Opposition to portray the Malay nationalist party as racist, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
The Umno president said in his opening speech at the party’s annual general assembly here that minority voters have been misled by such “lies”, which also managed to turn the public against the Barisan Nasional government even as it was “genuinely” serving public interests.
“This is what we call the war on perception, a game that nearly defeated us… even if the government was on the right path and genuinely fighting for the people, compared to the Opposition that only knows intrigues and theatrics,” he said.
“Another thing that I must explain is, Umno is not a racist party. If we were, how could we accept and work with component parties of other races in harmony for decades?
“I must also stress that Umno is not anti-Chinese. But it is obvious that the Chinese and some of the Indians were also dragged, trapped and victimised by the Opposition’s perception (war) and lies”.
Najib stressed that his party is one that is “above all” for its inclusiveness and belief in diversity.
“And we also believe we need harmony to live together, and that we are dependent on and complement each other,” the Umno president said.
Critics of his government have persistently accused Najib and Umno of relying on communal politics to stay in power, which have been as regularly denied by the Malay party’s leaders.
Today, Najib said all the allegations made by Umno's political foes were fake news, and that the federal Opposition will continue to disseminate false information to mislead voters.
“Speaking of perception, in the last election, the Opposition played up numerous fake news to tarnish the image of our party and the government,” Najib said.
“They spread a lie that 40,000 voters would be imported from Bangladesh… and they added that the voting ink was easily removable and scraped off.
“In fact in the wee hours of the 13th GE at 4am one of their leaders spread an SMS saying they have won… how can they win when the election hasn't even started yet?” Najib asked.
Najib added that the federal Opposition will step up the use of “fake news” as their “modus operandi” as elections near.
The 14th general elections must be called by August next year but Deputy Prime Minister and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently hinted that Najib could call for polls just after the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, which falls in mid-February.
The Umno leadership have made it clear that this year's general assembly will focus solely on election preparations.
The assembly will go on until Saturday, with Najib scheduled to wrap up the event in the evening.