Wednesday, September 29, 2004

To Remain Credible, Pak Lah Must Eliminate Racism In UMNO

Press Statement - by Teresa Kok

(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): I urge the Prime Minister and President of UMNO to eliminate communalism from UMNO and to to bring UMNO and Malaysia towards a new era of liberal and democratic politics as Pak Lah himself has been espousing since he assumed the Premiership.

In the UMNO Assembly which ended yesterday, the racist speeches made by Badruddin Amiruldin, the new deputy permanent chairperson of UMNO, Dr Pirdaus Ismail, the UMNO Youth Ex-Co member as well as Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh, Higher Education Minister show that many UMNO leaders have not abandoned their racist mentalities and attitudes despite Pak Lah's pronouncement on National Day that all Malaysians are equal.

To quote from Pak Lah's National Day message:

" Let all citizens of Malaysia, without feeling inferior, without feeling sidelined, irrespective of race or religion, rise to become statesmen in our own land. We are equal, we are all Malaysians. No individual in this country is more Malaysian than another".

Badruddin Amiruldin in his speech urged the non-Malays not to question the special rights of the Malays. He also urge DAP not to question the Islamic State because 58 years ago UMNO had an agreement with other races whereby citizenship would be granted to the minority groups in return for their acceptance of Malay special privileges. His statement was then echoed by Dr Pirdaus Ismail who urged the Chinese Chauvinists
within and outside the DAP not to question or neglect Malay rights and he cited May 13 riots as a reminder again.

UMNO leaders must stop misconstruing the so-called Merdeka Social Contract for their political objectives. If these leaders would read the original Report of the Federation of Malaya Constitutional Report 1957 ("the Reid Commission Report"), they will discover that the policies implemented by the UMNO-led Government has breached both the letter and spirit of the original Social Contract which was the sum total of the hopes and aspirations of our people of all ethnic, religious and social status including the Malay rulers.

This distortion of the Social Contract to justify the abuses of power, privileges, corruption and cronyism is unacceptable, particularly in the light of the reforms promised by Pak Lah since he assumed the Office of Prime Minister as the "leader of all Malaysians".

Besides, Higher Education Minister Dr Shafie (who was rejected by delegates in his bid for a Supreme Council seat) also said that he will "never allow non-Bumiputra students to enter University Technology MARA (UiTM) ". In respect of places in public university places, he said that "will ensure that the quota of Malay students' entry into universities is always higher"

I wish to ask, how will such a policy contribute towards national unity and inter-ethnic understanding? How will such narrow-minded policies help achieve Pak Lah's objective of meritocracy in all aspects of Malaysian life?

Does his 'promise' to ensure that the Malay students' quota is always higher under the so-called meritocracy selection policy for university entrance (i.e. higher than the previous Bumiputra quota of 55%) not confirm that the so-called meritocracy policy is a lie?

The above-mentioned speeches in the UMNO Assembly shows that the UMNO led by Abdullah Badawi is still a party of ¡¥Malay Supremacists¡¦, totally at odds to the content of Abdullah Badawi's keynote speech at the opening of the UMNO Assembly on Thursday, when he urged Malays ¡¨to have a global mindset, to understand the global scenario and to face the challenges of the global environment.¡¨

Besides, these speeches also against Tun Dr Mahathir's repeated exhortations at recent years' UMNO Assemblies that Malays shed the crutches of dependency on government help and support.

If the Malaysian Government wishes the nation to compete in the rapidly changing global economic and political environment, then all Malaysians, Malay and non-Malay alike, must subscribe to meritocracy, fair play and democracy .

UMNO and Barisan Nasional members at all levels must set aside communal politics and be less dependent on the government, so all Malaysians can compete as a united team in the global marketplace.

It is indeed very regrettable that communal politics and racist attitudes are still demonstrated at the UMNO Assembly despite the unprecedented victory of UMNO and Barisan Nasional in this year's general elections.

UMNO, as the dominant ruling party should lead by example and eschew divisive and racist sentiments. Instead UMNO should show maturity and magnanimity as the 'de facto' ruling party.

If Pak Lah allows these kinds of inflammatory statements to be made at UMNO Assemblies, it will undermine his credibility as the leader of all Malaysians.


* Teresa Kok, Publicity Secretary of DAP and MP for Seputeh

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