Ahmad Ismail’s racist remarks - test case for all BN Ministers/leaders whether they are Bangsa Malaysia

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his 51st National Day Message called on every Malaysian to give importance to solidarity, as “it is the cornerstone of the country’s political stability, social harmony and economic competitiveness”.

However, the Prime Minister has caused great dismay and distress among right-thinking Malaysians as he has chosen to demonstrate his “solidarity” with the Bukit Bendera Umno chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail who had made offensive, insensitive, derogatory and racist remarks about the Malaysian Chinese during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign –referring to the Chinese as pendatang, orang tumpang and totally untrustworthy Malaysians.

Why is the Prime Minister not prepared to show “solidarity” with right-thinking Malaysians who deplore Ahmad Ismail’s insensitive, offensive, derogatory and racist remarks about the Malaysian Chinese.

I will declare my solidarity with what is right, just and true – including deploring insensitive, offensive, derogatory and racist remarks whether referring to the Malays, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans, whether it is made by a Chinese or non-Chinese leader.

Why is Abdullah not prepared to take a similar stand?

MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers, Deputy Ministers and leaders may not dare to tell Abdullah, then let me say it loud and clear to the Prime Minister – that his protection and condonation of Ahmad Ismail’s offensive and derogatory references to the Chinese in Malaysia, seeking to make light of the furore, has caused even more dismay and distress than Ahmad’s original offence.

It raises the question whether Abdullah has forgotten his pledge to be Prime Minister for all Malaysians and not just for any one race or one political party.

It also raises the question whether the Prime Minister and all Cabinet Ministers realize that they should always be exemplars of Bangsa Malaysia, who not only respect all races, religions, languages and cultures in plural Malaysia but ever-prepared to be role models to admonish all conduct unbecoming of a Bangsa Malaysia in showing insensitivity, disrespect or contempt for other races, religions, languages or cultures like what Ahmad Ismail had done especially when such disgraceful misconduct come from within their ranks.

The Ahmad Ismail furore has become a test case, not only for MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MPs and leaders but for everyone from the Barisan Nasional component parties, including Umno, as well.

Malaysians are entitled to ask whether, on the 51st National Day anniversary, there are any and if so, how many BN Ministers and leaders regard themselves as Bangsa Malaysia and are prepared to stand up in Cabinet on Wedneday, the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council and in public to make clear that derogatory references to the Malaysian Chinese or any other community, religion, language or culture is reprehensible, completely unacceptable and must attract the severest censure.

Ten days before the 51st Merdeka anniversary, there were UMNO MPs who behaved most boorishly in shouting “Balik Cina” in Parliament – the height of disrespect and contempt for a plural Malaysia after more than half-a-century of nation-building – and yet there had not been any censure by any Umno leader or a squeak of protest by any MCA, Gerakan or SUPP leader over this episode!

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said two days ago that the Barisan Nasional had taken cognizance of the thrashing the BN received in the Permatang Pauh by-election and is taking steps to restore the people’s confidence in the coalition.

He said that “it is natural that we have to listen to the people and the BN, as a political party, will have to listen and evaluate the voices and feedback”.

But the BN has learnt nothing if Ahmad Ismail is allowed to get away scot-free despite making such insensitive, offensive, racist and derogatory remarks about the Chinese in Malaysia. What is most shocking is that Ahmad Ismail had made such offensive remarks at a Permatang Pauh by-election ceramah which was attended by Najib himself, and the Deputy Prime Minister had done nothing to reprimand Ahmad Ismail.

It is not only MCA, Gerakan, SUPP, but all other BN parties including UMNO who are facing this acid test – whether all their claim that they had heard the voices of the people and are prepared to learn from the lessons of the two “political tsunamis” in six months are just empty and meaningless words!

Lim Kit Siang

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