By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak ridiculed and dismissed the impact of yesterday’s Bersih rally, declaring today that Umno was not afraid of fair elections.
In a fiery speech in front of 6,000 Umno members, NGOs and martial arts (silat) groups, the prime minister mocked the turnout of yesterday’s rally, claiming that Umno would have outnumbered Bersih if they had wanted to protest on the streets.
“Don’t doubt our strength. Umno has three million members. If we gather one million members, it is more than enough. We can conquer Kuala Lumpur.
“If we want to create chaos, we can. But we uphold the laws of Malaysia, we like peace,” Najib said to a roaring crowd of Umno members and supporters.
The Umno president pointed out that despite Bersih’s promises of a 500,000 turnout, “not even 10,000” people took part in the rally. He congratulated Malaysians who did not attend the rally, and dubbed them the “silent majority.”
Police estimates put the number of people who attended at around 6,000 while Bersih claimed some 50,000 turned up despite a city-wide lockdown by the authorities.
“This is just a part of Umno’s strength. We gathered 6,000 members here today in a short amount of time ... they are waiting for a signal, they’re willing to do anything,” Najib told reporters later.
During his speech, Najib thanked everyone who attended the “Majlis Penerangan Perdana” event, saying that the NGOs present, including silat organisations, were waiting to defend the country at a drop of a hat.
“If you mention or question Islam, they will rise up,” he said.
“Don’t (make us) start street demonstrations. Yesterday, we only sent our Umno Youth wing, led by Khairy Jamaluddin, to represent us,” Najib said, amid deafening shouts of support for the Umno Youth chief, who was also present.
All top Umno leaders were present today, including Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil, and secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
“You didn’t want Wanita Umno to go to the streets, otherwise we would have done so,” chimed an excited Shahrizat to Najib during a press conference here.
Najib also said the government was serious about improving the current electoral process, citing the introduction of a biometric system as proof. He stressed that his administration practised “true democracy.”
“Umno is not afraid of fair elections,” stressed Najib.
He urged all Umno delegates present to be united, and said that once the party was ready, he would ask the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament.
“We will show that Umno is the best in the world ... Long live Umno! Long live Barisan Nasional! 1 Malaysia!” exclaimed Najib.