KUALA LUMPUR: On the eve of the general assembly, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak made no pretense that the coming general election will decide the future of UMNO which has ruled the country for over half a century.
"The next 10 years will be exciting, UMNO will be at the forefront... Together with our friends in BN, we are committed to bringing all races together. It's not just about malays but all Malaysians," said Mr Najib.
"The next election is very, very important for us to deliver the real transformation. We need to get reelected, we need to get the support of the people."
To do so, Mr Najib needs everyone in UMNO to put the party's interest first and support only candidates that can win.
Mr Ahmad Shabery Chik, Malaysia Youth and Sports Minister, said: "Everybody needs to do some adjustment. The liberals, the conservatives, the ultras and so on. At the end of the day, we have to deliver, in terms of winning back the seats that we lost in the last election, gaining back the people's confidence that this party is still on the right track, still relevant forever."
In his presidential address to delegates later this week, Mr Najib is likely to harp on Wasathiyah - an Islamic term for moderation - and urge party leaders to work hard to shed the arrogant and corrupt image which was blamed for UMNO's dismal showing in the last election.
Mr Razali Ibrahim, Deputy Youth Chief, UMNO, said: "We are not only concerned about retaining power... we would like the people to love us (and) we want the people to know that we are trying to build the country."
With 3.4 million members, UMNO's general assembly is keenly watched by the people.
Dr KJ John, columnist at malaysiakini said: "They have all been told to tone down. They won't show too much of anti-race or anti-religion issues at the general assembly."
UMNO appears to have ended the blame game and is eager to look forward with a new, reformed image.