Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, in his maiden presidential address, today outlined eight strategies for the party, which suffered huge losses in the March 8 general election, to win back the hearts and minds of the people.

“First, we must apply Gerakan’s Malaysian perspective and non-racial approach to analyse major national issues, formulate policy positions, propose viable and acceptable solutions and initiatives in order to promote national unity and nation-building,” he said.

Addressing Gerakan’s 37th national delegates conference, Dr Koh, who had been party acting president since the retirement of former president Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik more than a year ago, said Gerakan would also be more vocal in raising various issues and concerns at both the federal and state levels.

The conference was opened by Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. The opening session was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, BN component leaders and diplomats.

“Gerakan will perform a dual role. It will become the voice of the people from within the Barisan Nasional and push for reform of the BN to be truly representative of all Malaysians. Gerakan will also be a constructive and effective opposition in the states under Pakatan Rakyat,” Dr Koh said.

Thirdly, he said, Gerakan would rebuild and strengthen the party in all aspects so as to regain the peoples trust and support by re-establishing and reinforcing the partys links with the people, upgrading services, organising activities and preparing to seek the people’s mandate again.

The party also intends to actively reach out and forge smart partnership with members of the civil society and various non-governmental organisations, working on common issues of concern and mutual interest at national, state and local levels, he said.

“Fifth, we shall activate, motivate and mobilise existing party members and recruit more Malaysians from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds with emphasis on youth and women. We want to make Gerakan truly multi-racial,” he added.

Dr Koh, who is the former chief minister of Penang, said the party would also boost the morale and quality of leaders and members by increasing and upgrading political training and programmes to reinforce ideological commitment, enhance knowledge, and upgrade leadership, management and communication skills.

The seventh strategy, he said was to re-energise and revamp the party’s organisation and admission at all levels by further strengthening party bureaus at central and state levels.

“Eighth, we shall further improve our communication and public relations strategies to enable members of the public and the party to better understand and support our party.

“This is what we have to work on together in order to rebrand and reposition Gerakan. Gerakan can then be strong again and even stronger than before,” he said.

Dr Koh also said that Gerakan would play an even more constructive role in contributing towards building a united, democratic, just, liberal and progressive nation for all Malaysians, transcending barriers of race and religion.

He said work on these strategies would start immediately after this conference, with himself and the newly elected central leadership meeting all state liaison committees and key grassroots leaders.

“We must move in every state and every division. We must move to reach as many Malaysians as possible. We must move and motivate ourselves. After all, our party is named Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia or the Malaysian Peoples Movement Party. The name speaks for itself,” Dr Koh said.