I welcome the clarification by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin claiming that his May 13 remark at a Ramadan event in Pagoh last Friday was “manipulated”, denying that he was making any May 13 threat to non-Malays and non-Muslims as he had merely expressed fear that such clashes could happen if Malaysians do not preserve harmony.
Speaking in Kedah last night, Muhyiddin said it is not wrong to issue such reminders, which applies to both Malays and non-Malays.
I have said publicly that I would be the first to applaud Muhyiddin if he had spoken as Deputy Prime Minister of all Malaysians to all Malaysians on the imperative need to prevent a recurrence of May 13 racial riots and safeguard national unity in a multi-racial and multi-religious society so as to be a model of harmony and solidarity of a plural nation for the world, but this was not what he did.
If Muhyiddin’s Pagoh speech had been “”manipulated,” then the culprit is none other than Utusan Malaysia, the mouthpiece of Umno.
This was because it was Utusan Malaysia which reported Muhyiddin’s warning of another May 13 riots in the context of worsening ethnic relations allegedly because Malays and Islam were under siege (clearly implying that this was because of the attacks by non-Malays and non-Muslims), as illustrated by the following quote from Muhyiddin:
“As deputy prime minister, every night before I sleep, I think about how to manage the country. Someone sent me a text message (asking) what will happen to the Malays, why is Islam being insulted and other similar issues.
“These things are definitely happening and it is worrying. We must all return to the right path. Let religion as well as our culture and customs be our strength.”
It is very clear from the Utusan Malaysia report (and nobody doubts Utusan on this matter as it is the mouthpiece of UMNO) that Muhyiddin was singling out non-Malays and non-Muslims when he referred to the recurrence of May 13 alleging that the Malays and Islam were under relentless attack, a threat which had in fact been repeated a few times since the 13th General Elections in May last year by other irresponsible extremist groups and individuals.
I welcome Muhyiddin’s clarification although it must taken with a big pinch of salt – but in the national interest, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that henceforth nobody will issue May 13 threats to any particular community.
I have many questions to ask Muhyiddin, including why he had not immediately issued such a clarification instead of allowing six days to elapse before doing so – which would have ended the unfortunate furore over his May 13 remark.
It has been reported that the police wants to call in the Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy over his response to Muhyiddin’s May 13 remark following the lodging of three police reports against Ramasamy.
A police report has also been lodged against Muhyddin for his May 13 remark.
Ramasamy has denied challenging Muhyiddin to re-enact the May 13 riots, saying he was “upset, sick and tired” that the DPM had harped on the May 13 issue and blamed non-Malays for the country’s problems.
Is the police going to call in both Muhyiddin and Ramasamy over the furore last week over Muyhiddin’s May 13 remark?
The country should move on. Let all Malaysians learn from the furore of the last week to be careful and not to be careless with our public statements and avoid insensitive and provocative expressions which undermine racial and religious understanding, harmony and peace.
In Gelang Patah yesterday, while welcoming the establishment of a new NGO, “Negara Ku”, to battle racism and extremism with the increase in racial and religious rhetoric in the country including threats of another May 13, I called for a National Reconciliation Roundtable of the two political coalitions, Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, to check racial and religious polarisation and to reach a national consensus to end all May 13 threats.
Will Muhyiddin support this proposal of a BN-PR National Reconciliation Roundtable to check racial and religious polarisation, reach a national consensus to end all May 13 threats in the country and end the perilous course of incessant stoking and incitement of racial and religious hatred, conflict and tension in the past 14 months?
Isn’t it more useful, productive and patriotic for all Malaysians to unite regardless of race, religion or region to make Malaysia a great and successful country, acknowledged by the world as a model of a plural nation where there is rule of law, good governance, human dignity, freedom and justice for all Malaysians instead of undermining the country’s great potentials in all fields of human endeavour by incessantly stoking the fires of ethnic and religious hatred and conflict?