By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Tuesday, in Penang on Tuesday, 18.8.1987:
Najib should not put the blame on others when the UMNO Youth and some UMNO leaders have primarily been responsible for the recent spate of incidents hurting the sensitivities and self-respect of the other races, languages and cultures
UMNO Youth Acting President, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, said UMNO Youth had ‘lost its patience’ and could ‘no longer contain its anger’ at the “challenge to Malay rights, dominance, dignity and sovereignty”.
Datuk Najib should not put the blame on others when UMNO Youth and some UMNO leaders had primarily been responsible for the recent spate of incidents hurting the sensitivities and self-respect of the other races, languages and cultures.
Who were responsible for the recent controversies like the University of Malaya elective courses, the Johore Seafood Festival Chinese signboard affair, the Malacca Education Department directive on collective school prayer pledge, the forced cancellation of the UKM Martial Art, Chinese and Dragon Dance night on August 1 as part of the convocation ceremony, and a host of others?
Looking back, it was UMNO MP for Datuk Abdullah Ahmad speech on last year’s National day, warning the Malaysian Chinese that they are playing with fire if they do not accept the present political system of Malaysia in seeking greater political equality and democracy, followed by the extremist speeches in the UMNO and UMNO General Assemblies a month later, which started the recent phase where he sensitivities and self-respect of the other races, languages and cultures were trampled upon.
What did UMNO Youth or Najib do to refer Abdullah Ahmad to the police and the authorities for action to be taken?
It was only a week ago that Najib chaired a meeting of the Barisan Nasional Youth Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur, after which he announced in his capacity as Barisan Nasional Youth Council Chairman that all component youth parties in the Barisan Nasional had agreed to refrain from touching on sensitive issues and use the existing Barisan Nasional channels to voice their grievances in the spirit of consensus.
Why has he become the first to break this week-old decision at the Barisan Nasional Youth Council, with his warnings and threats yesterday?
Najib should be a national leader, and not just a leader of one ethnic group, and should be able to realise that the spate of highly proactive incidents hurting the sensitivities and pride of the other languages, races and cultures is not good for the country’s harmony and stability as a whole. He should realise that if this spate of incidents and very extremist utterances continue, the patience of other language, racial and cultural group have also a limit and that they may not be able to contain their anger too!
There are Malay rights, dignity and sensitivities which must be respected by all Malaysians, but there are also non-Malay rights, dignity and sensitivities which must equally be respected by everyone. The trouble in Malaysia today is that there are those who demand that their rights, dignity and sensitivities be respected at the expense of the rights, dignity and sensitivities of others!
For instance, there are those in UMNO Youth and UMNO who believe that the promotion of the Bahasa Malaysia must been the demotion of Chinese and Tamil languages. Why should this be so, when Article 152 is of two limbs, firstly on Bahasa Malaysia as national and official language; and secondly, guarantee of the free use, learning and study of the other languages, apart from official use.
Najib may think he could become a ‘Malay hero’ by warning about ‘losing patience’ and ‘cannot contain anger’, but what would be the position if other leaders counter with warnings that the Chinese or Indians have also ‘lost patience’ and ‘cannot contain anger’ and also become Instant Chinese or Indian heroes?
Najib is being highly irresponsible in his latest outburst. As a Minister, and as a UMNO Vice President by virtue of his position as UMNO Youth Leader, he should use his influence in government and the ruling coalition to solve the increasingly grave problem of racial polarization, instead of pouring oil on fire! Let us have more statesmanship from Najib, instead of brinkmanship!