UMNO President and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday (Dec 10) officially opened the UMNO General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre.
In his keynote speech, Mr Najib addressed economic and political issues, touching on topics ranging from the role of the Bumiputeras in Malaysia to the controversy surrounding state wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Mr Najib said that external factors affected not just Malaysia's economy but also other developing countries, adding the ringgit's depreciation was due to external influences and not because of government failure to manage the economy.
On calls from UMNO Deputy President and former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to step down following his handling of 1MDB, Mr Najib reminded him of his duties and responsibilities as deputy, and called on members to remain loyal to the party.
"In our determination to struggle, even if the sky crashes down, even if
the earth is split into two, with the motto "Bersatu, Bersetia dan Berkhidmat," (Unity, Loyalty and To Serve), UMNO is the only party belonging to us, defend it, defend it together," said Mr Najib.
He added: "No matter how high the obstacles, no matter how strong the opposition, I can never surrender, in fact, I should face it head on to resolve the problem and continue to lead UMNO towards victory."
Mr Najib also said that UMNO brought international recognition and acceptance of the special status of Bumiputera in Malaysia through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The 12-country TPP is a broad agreement to lower trade barriers and promote investment in a region comprising 40 per cent of the global economy.
One of the sticking points in the deal for Malaysia was that countries must open state procurement more to foreign competition and not give state-owned enterprises - and ethnic Malay firms under the Bumiputera policy - undue preference.
"We in this assembly, must continue to uphold the interest and position of the race and the descendants of the Malays and Bumiputeras, in our own homeland," said Mr Najib. "Malaysia was never apologetic in defending the Bumiputera agenda in negotiating the TPP."
"NAJIB SHOULDN'T TAKE CREDIT FOR UMNO'S SUCCESS": MAHATHIR
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who was in the audience at PWTC told the media after Mr Najib's speech that the latter shouldn't take credit for UMNO's success.
"Don't take credit for UMNO's successes as if it's our own," he said. "I also have never taken credit."
He added: "I agree with Najib's speech that UMNO has succeeded in bringing progress to this country. That's UMNO. Not the UMNO leadership."
Najib has continued to weather calls for him to quit over allegations of graft at 1MDB his receipt of 2.6 billion ringgit (US$610.8 million) in what he says was a political donation from Middle Eastern sources.
Comprising a total of 5,738 delegates, this year's General Assembly began on Tuesday and will end on Saturday.