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Najib open to attending discussion with Pas


PROMOTING UNITY: 'We will seek further explanation on its scope'

KUALA LUMPUR: PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been invited by Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob to attend an Umno-Pas muzakarah (discussion).

Najib said he would accommodate Ahmad's request as the government was always open to discussions.

"However, we also need to see what the scope of the discussion will be. We will seek further explanation from Pas," Najib said after the launch of the National Unity Consultative Council credential presentation here.

On Sunday, Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, in his closing speech at Pas' 59th muktamar, said the party was willing to sit down with Umno to discuss the implementation of an administration based on Islam.

Hadi had said a muzakarah could result in greater unity among Muslims in the country and resolve issues, such as the use of the word "Allah" and matters splitting the ummah (faithful).

In his speech yesterday, Najib outlined seven guidelines to be observed for the nation to progress.

The first, he said, was to maintain peace and harmony at all costs. The second was that all decisions had to be based on the Federal Constitution. Respecting the tenets of Rukun Negara was the third guideline. Fourthly, social justice must be upheld using the principles of 1Malaysia while the fifth guideline was to ensure the nation's wealth was shared in an inclusive, fair and just manner based on a new, vibrant economic model.

Najib also impressed on the need for community and religious tolerance.

He said Malaysians needed to work together on apolitical common ground, such as matters related to public health and the environment.

"I'm not interested in winning legal arguments but in ensuring peace and harmony in Malaysia. There's no substitute for peace and harmony."

Present were Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, NUCC chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman and Ministers in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.

Najib later presented letters of appointment to Samsudin, NUCC deputy chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye and council members Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Wardina Safiyyah and Anas Zubedy .

NUCC comprises community leaders, academicians, intellectuals, representatives of non-governmental organisations and politicians. The council is aimed at brainstorming ways to unite ethnic groups in the country and strengthen national unity.

The 29-member council had been given six months to prepare an interim report for the government.

"Nation building normally takes some time and, as such, we need to come up with positive intervention in a more structured manner."

Najib said the appointment of the members, regardless of their political views, was to ensure the council would remain objective.

"The report will focus on nation-building efforts. The government wants to know what it would take to strengthen national unity and harmony."

The suggestion for the formation of the NUCC was announced by Najib at Dewan Rakyat on June 26 as part of efforts to achieve national unity and forge closer relations between the people of various races in the country.

On Johor's new official rest days, which now fall on Friday and Saturday starting in January, Najib said the Federal Government respected the decision.

"While we respect the decision, we are also looking into it. We are in consultation with the state government and the private sector."

Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had made the announcement during his 55th birthday celebration on Saturday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak meeting the members of the National Unity Consultative Council yesterday. Pic by Aizuddin Saad

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