Kuala Lumpur: Umno today announced a mega-meeting of over 1,000 NGOs this month to ‘gather feedback' but denies it has anything to do with BN's preparations for the coming general election.
Making the announcement, Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan said the gathering on Nov 24, dubbed ‘Himpunan Barisan 1Malaysia', is aimed at gathering feedback from civil society about government policy.
Ahmad, who is also the ad hoc event secretariat chairperson, said the event was neither organised by Umno, BN nor the government and will only carry the name ‘Barisan 1Malaysia'.
Asked if it was a non-partisan event, he replied, "You look at me, do I look non-partisan to you? Non-partisan or partisan, I leave it up to the public to decide," he said.
On whether this was to shore up BN's support ahead of national polls, Maslan said, "No, the activities we do are not seen as heading in that direction."
"We will have a constructive discussion together with government departments and agencies to get their views.
"For example, to seek views such as on the AES (automated enforcement system) and PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) or the National Education Blueprint.
"We will then compile their views and channel them to the relevant agencies as feedback on government policies," he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.
Ahmad, who is also a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said the gathering will be comprised of NGOs of all races and backgrounds.
"We are not just inviting anybody, these are the NGO chiefs... the NGOs have been verified by the Registar of Societies that they are active," he said.
Dong Zong invited despite planned protest
Asked whether Dong Zong, which plans to hold a protest on Nov 25 against the NEB - supposedly not sufficiently taking into account Chinese education - would be invited to the gathering, Ahmad replied in the positive.
"But they will be one of over 1,000 NGOs and none is more important than the others," he said.
Asked if Dong Zong's protest, scheduled a day after the gathering which will be officially launched by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, was necessary in light of the mega-discussion, Ahmad responded: "That is their right."
Ahmad said the gathering to be held at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) is expected to draw at least 5,000 people, where several prominent figures will speak.
Among them are social activists Chandra Muzaffar and Lee Lam Thye and Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia rector Zaleha Kamaruddin.
The issues to be discussed will include academic aspects, economy, religion, history and social issues.--Courtesy of Malaysiakini