KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 1, 2008) : Opalyn Mok, Himanshu Bhatt and S. Tamarai Chelvi
Pressure is mounting on the Barisan Nasional leadership and the government to act against Umno Bukit Bendera division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail for the alleged racist remarks he made last month during the Permatang Pauh by-election campaign.
Today, the DAP joined grassroot leaders from MCA and Gerakan in lodging police reports, urging that investigations be carried out under the Sedition Act, and that Ahmad be made to withdraw his statement and to apologise to the Chinese community for the hurtful remark.
In Port Klang, MCA vice-president Datuk Ong Tee Keat said he advocated penalty under the Sedition Act for members of BN component parties who make racially sensitive remarks.
He said such action was necessary to ensure that the remarks by the individuals were not reflective of the stand of the parties they belonged to.
"If a party wants to show that the remarks were not reflective of its stand but represented an opinion of the individual (party member), it must discipline the member so as not to give a wrong picture to the people," Bernama quoted him as saying after a visit to Westport Malaysia here.
Ong was asked to comment on Gerakan's intention to suggest to the BN supreme council that leaders of BN component parties who utter racially sensitive remarks be hauled up under the Sedition Act or other relevant laws.
Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had claimed that a racially-sensitive comment by a politician in Penang during the Permatang Pauh by-election recently had eroded the Chinese support towards the BN.
When contacted, the Penang Umno Liaison Committee said it will leave it to the BN leadership to deal with the matter.
Its deputy chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah said they did not receive any official letters, references or complaints regarding Ahmad's statement.
He declined to comment directly on the alleged remark as he had not received any references or complaints, and also did not know whether the vernacular papers which carried the report had reported the matter correctly.
He said this matter only became an issue after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim won the Permatang Pauh by-election.
“Ahmad had allegedly made the statement on Aug 25 but nothing was mentioned at that time. Now, after BN was defeated, all sorts of issues come up,” he said.
“So many people have called me to comment on this but I can't comment when I don't even know what he said. The alleged racist statement only came out in the
Chinese newspapers and I can't read those. I didn't receive anything about it so I can't comment on something I have not seen or read,” he said.
Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omah Shah, who had contested in the by-election and lost, also refrained from commenting on this as he was not there when it happened.
Arif Shah however echoed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's comment that Ahmad "may not have meant what he has said".
On Saturday, Abdullah had said that he would make sure Ahmad did not repeat his remarks.
He claimed that Ahmad probably did not mean it and that he would tell him not to do it again.
Ahmad had allegedly said the Chinese are "only immigrants" and that "as the Chinese were only immigrants, it was impossible to achieve equal rights amongst races". The report upset many leaders from MCA and Gerakan.
Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan expressed disappointment that Abdullah managed only a “light and non-deterrent” response to Ahmad’s remark.
“If leaders of any component parties who uttered such racist statement could be let off so lightly just like that, how can the BN leadership ensure that such racist statement will not be uttered again by any other BN political leader, be it in UMNO or any party in future. We therefore call on the UMNO and BN leadership to review its stance against Datuk Ahmad Ismail and give the public a satisfactory answer.”
In Petaling Jaya, DAP said they have simultaneously lodged police reports in all states against Ahmad.
DAP Selangor's secretary and Kampung Tunku Assemblyman Lau Weng San lodged the report at the Petaling Jaya police station at 12.43 noon.
He said they are not satisfied with the explanation given by the prime minister.
MP for PJ Utara Tony Pua said citizenship cannot be questioned and if it is questioned it is seditious and against the law.
He spoke on Clause 3 (1) (e) and (e) of Seditious Act and Federal Constitution on the citizenship.
In GEORGE TOWN, DAP Socialist Youth lodged a similar police report, urging action against Ahmad under Section 3(1)(e) of the Sedition Act 1948.
Dapsy Tanjung division secretary Ng Wei Aik, who is also the chief minister’s political secretary, made the report at the George Town district police headquarters at 11.39am yesterday. He called on Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan to state police’s stand on the matter.
“The law is fair to everyone, whether it is a member of the opposition or the Barisan Nasional (BN),” Ng said.
He was accompanied by Sri Delima assemblyman RSN Rayer, Dapsy national executive committee member Teh Lai Heng, and Dapsy Bukit Mertajam division chief Tan Khong Chong.
Ng said Ahmad’s reported comment that Chinese were “squatters” in Malaysia and therefore could not enjoy equality with others had “injured the feelings of the Chinese community.”
“We gave him until Aug 31 to retract his statement and apologise, but he has refused to do so,” Ng told reporters later.
Ng also defended the reference to the Sedition Act in his report.
He said the Act, which had previously been used against opposition figures like DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and DAP chairman Karpal Singh, was legally applicable until another legislation like a proposed Anti-Hatred Act was in place.