Najib (right) and Koh Tsu Koon partially hidden

Najib (right) and Koh Tsu Koon partially hidden

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak said he had appointed Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon as a cabinet minister because he appreciated the party’s contribution to the country and wanted the voice of its members to reach the government.

He also said Koh’s appointment should also be seen as part of the process to rehabilitate the party.

“Do not question (the appointment). This is my right as the prime minister. I have done it not because I want to use my authority but because I am the chairman of the Barisan Nasional (BN). I have to make a decision in the interests of the BN.

“I am not merely the president of Umno; I am also the chairman of the BN. I am the prime minister not only for the Malays; I am the prime minister for all Malaysians,” he said when opening the Gerakan national delegates conference, here on Sunday.

Najib said he had acted after taking into consideration the future of the country and the problems faced by the BN component parties.

Koh is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the government’s Key Performance Index (KPI).

Last Thursday, Sri Gading Member of Parliament Datuk Mohamad Aziz, of the BN, when debating the Supply Bill 2010, questioned Koh’s appointment, saying he believed Koh had not performed well.

The government backbencher had also urged MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat to withdraw from his ministerial post, saying he had lost the confidence of his own party and his image had been tarnished.

Koh, in his response on Saturday, said he was unfazed by the remark and that he would not be distracted but was committed to what had to be done and would forge ahead.

Najib urged Gerakan to resolve its internal problems to help strengthen the BN.

He said Gerakan must become the dynamic and progressive party that it was in 1974.

The prime minister said there were many critics within and outside any political party.

“We must realise that politics, just like life, is never a bed of roses. However, the important thing which will determine our success or failure is the courage of our conviction.

“If you have the courage of conviction, if you believe in what you do, you believe in what you stand for, you believe in the struggle … you can overcome all the challenges, all the difficulties.

“Never mind. Let there be the critics, let there be the sceptics … but you quietly tell yourself, one day I will make them eat back their words,” he said.

The prime minister said he believed that if the Gerakan members were to subscribe to this spirit, the party would become dynamic and progressive again.

“However, if we are easily disheartened, if we do not have self-belief, if we do not have self-resilience, you might as well not be in politics,” he said.

Najib said the people had given a clear signal in the 2008 general election, and the BN had to rectify the weaknesses and strengthen the party to remain relevant.

“The political tsunami has happened only once … are you so weak you cannot fight?” he asked.

Najib said that if the party could rehabilitate itself, the recent success in the Bagan Pinang by-election in Negeri Sembilan could be repeated elsewhere.

Najib said the BN would remain relevant always and be the leading party in the country because it was prepared to change and had clear direction and principles.

He said all government policies were formulated in the interests and well-being of the people.

He also said that another important component in his administration was the system of delivery to the people based on fair considerations.

“You deliver what the people want, what the people need, based on fair considerations … we have to be fair to all within the context of our constitution and Rukun Negara,” he said.

Najib acknowledged that prior to the last general election, the BN was “slightly out of touch with the people”.

As such, he said, the BN had to change for the better.

“We will change for the better. I give you the commitment, we will change for the better. But I ask (that it should be) not only me. Do not just look at the prime minister; we all must reflect the change.

“We must be like the train. (When) the train is moving … it cannot be the locomotive alone … everybody else must work together.

“Gerakan must work together, MCA must work together, MIC must work together, PPP must work together and so must all the other parties (in the BN).

“So, if there are any internal problems, resolve them quickly. What are you waiting for? Solve your problems, strengthen the BN, have the courage of conviction. Believe me, we are on the right path, the right track,” he said.