Malay-based political parties can strife for the best cooperation in the name of Malay-Islam unity, but the devil is in the details, said former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Najib (above) said problems arose when related parties scrutinised details in the cooperation, and there are bound to be problems.
In an interview with Astro Awani yesterday, he was asked about his stance on the rhetoric of Malay-Islam unity as underscored by Muafakat Nasional and Perikatan Nasional.
"When it comes to the details, problems arise. This makes the situation difficult, but let's not get carried away by the rhetoric," Najib said.
The Muafakat pact, comprising Umno and PAS, was formed with the objective to unite the country's two biggest Malay-based parties.
However, when they joined forces with Bersatu to form the PN government, Umno had refused to formally join the PN pact, while PAS is seen as a strong ally to Bersatu in PN.
Najib reminded political parties in the peninsula not to forget their counterparts and the people in East Malaysia.
"We must not forget Sabah and Sarawak. They don't find it comforting when we mention the concept.
"When we say we want to build the country, build the muafakat (cooperation), we must not forget that there are many non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak who are not comfortable (with the concept).
"Even the Muslims there don't find it comforting when we use the (Malay-Islam unity) concept," he said.
Umno not breaking up, just having a difference of opinion
Commenting on his own party, the Pekan MP dismissed certain quarters' views that Umno has lost its direction.
Najib said there are parties who perceive Umno as directionless because there are many differing views from party members, notably on social media.
"We are open, and I can say that being democratic is our way. We listen to opinions from the grassroots.
"...and now, they are more open than before, especially in the era of social media," he said.
Najib is optimistic that when the time comes, Umno will unite all the differing views and set the strategic direction.
"I am not worried. God-willing, we will decide what's best for Umno... I believe the supreme council meeting which convened (recently) would provide a clear picture of the party direction," he said.
Speaking on the participation of young leaders in the party, Najib said Umno has been raising young leaders in the past, such as former culture, youth and sports minister Mokhtar Hashim; former Malacca chief minister Rahim Tamby Chik; former domestic trade and consumer affairs minister Shahrir Samad and himself.
However, he said, one must not get carried away with the understanding that young leaders are definitely the best.
"It's not only about age. The young may be dynamic and energetic, but they (lack) two criteria - experience and wisdom.
"If it's just an age factor, there are young leaders who failed, and we can see that ourselves," he said.
A leader, Najib said, must train and open up opportunities to his successors.
"Don't be afraid. When the time comes to retire, we retire because other people can take our place."
RELATED STORY: Najib: Govt must prove it has moral authority in Parliament