MELAKA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak chided former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for labelling Umno as a party owned by the former.
Dismissing the allegation, the Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman and Umno president said the reason he was able to stay long in politics was because he applied the political theory to establish a good formal and informal relationship with his members.
"Tun M said he does not support Umno because Umno is owned by Najib. Since when Umno belongs to Najib ?
"Umno is more open today than any other time, and I am a leader of the party because of the support of the members," he said in his speech before opening the Umno Masjid Tanah division meeting at SM Imtiaz Ulul Albab here.
Najib had earlier told his delegates that it was Dr Mahathir who instituted the bonus voting system and the quota system in the party polls to maintain his grip on power.
Najib added that he had risked his position and done away with Mahathir's system by introducing a more open party poll system where the leadership was elected by 165,000 members instead of 3,200 division leaders.
"I allow my fate to be determined by 165,000 Umno members nationwide. Because there is no way you can buy the votes of 165,000 leaders.
"They voted based on their whims and fancies, but I manage to win uncontested. Tell me who is the dictator here?" Najib asked.
He attributed his recognition by the party members as their president derived from a political theory that comes from formal power (formed by the party structure) and informal powers (formed from intimate relationship with others).
"Those who lasts long are those with informal powers. Which is why since 1976, I have built both formal and informal relationships,” he added.
Citing his relationship with his deputy, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as an example, Najib told detractors not to shaken his trust against Zahid.
"There are several quarters trying to pit me and my deputy, claiming that he was planning something, I would like to repeat that my confidence towards him is indisputable.
"My relationship with Zahid was built since 1986 up till now, and its not just a PM-and-DPM relationship. Mahathir will never succeed in splitting us," he said.
He added that during his tenure as the Umno deputy youth chief, he practiced the principles of wala (loyalty) and voted for Mahathir, allowing him to beat Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah by 43 votes in the 1987 Umno Presidential election.