Ahmad Ismail’s alleged racial remark at the Permatang Pauh by-election seems to be admitted in default by Ahmad himself when he reportedly said that Chinese should not be like Jews in US who want economic as well as political power. This is similar, or worse than the report by Sin Chew that `Chinese are squatters and cannot expect to enjoy equal power’. This latest remark has been reported by a number of media -thus Ahmad do have a case to answer to the UMNO president tomorrow -failing which he will face party disciplinary action. While he keep protesting that he is not a racist he cannot stop offering his racial thinking to the public: eg he prefered MCA-a purely ethnic based party like UMNO to become the head of BN Penang, and to become the representative of Chinese community. Unfortunate for him the rest of the world may have left him behind in opting for non-racial world.
The issue here is: how should the society deal with such bigotted view from politicians? Legal actions may not be appropriate as the same method used against racist will also be similarly extended to other social critics, thus restricting freedom of speech. But there is no restriction for socially aware groups to speak out against racism and other prejudicial thinking which only serve to irrationally divide the society. If the criticisms against racists are left to the racial parties then the racists are successful to drive a wedge of no-confidence between the races. It is at such time that non or multiracial groups stand up to speak against racial or sectarian groups/individuals-especially racial politicians who think racism win them votes. Denying votes/support to them thus become the best response to these prejudiced politicians. The divide now is not between the races -but between the racists and the non-racists!
If Ahmad want to claim to be rational he need to revise his policy to disallow questions from the journalists. This he has done it twice so far. Is there something that he cannot answer from the press? The unwillingness to face the press expose his claims of being reasonable and fairminded.
Ahmad Ismail blames Koh for tensions
By Adib Zulkapli
GEORGE TOWN, Sept 8( http://www.malaysianinsider.com ) — It was supposed to be a press conference for the Bukit Bendera Umno chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail to diffuse the situation.
What happened instead after the press conference was his supporters tore up in anger a picture of former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and engaged in a shouting match with reporters.
This happened after Ahmad, while defending his position, urged the Barisan Nasional leadership to expel Gerakan from the coalition.
His supporters also engaged in a shouting match with a reporter from an English language daily that reached its lowest point with death threats hurled at her.
Ahmad had been directed by Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to hold a press conference today to try to diffuse the tensions sparked by his controversial remarks during the recent Permatang Pauh by-election campaign in which he referred to the Chinese in Malaysia as “squatters”.
He read from a prepared statement, in which he defended his decision not to apologise for his remarks, and repeated his stand that he had been quoted out of context.
Ahmad put the blame for mounting racial tensions squarely on the shoulders of Koh, whom he accused of being a good actor who was instigating the Chinese.
He also attacked the reporter from a Chinese language daily for misreporting his speech.
“I was only mentioning the facts of what was the situation before Merdeka. Nobody can change history,” he said.
He said Gerakan leaders were trying to make him a scapegoat, and that Koh was creating a “sandiwara,” which caused tensions to rise.
“I have worked with him for the past 18 years. I know him very well. He is a good actor,” he said.
He said the patience of Malays had its limits.
“I want to appeal to the Chinese not to become like the Jewish in America. It is not enough they control the economy, now they want political control.”
Ahmad only answered one question from the press, before he ended the press conference.
Ahmad’s supporters, who were also present during his press conference last Friday, even took down the picture of former Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, from the wall of the conference room.
“One reporter insisted that I answer one more question from her, she was being a little bit rude, so some people got upset, you know how we Malays sometimes get angry with this kind of behaviour,” said Ahmad when contacted.
“I was already in the office when they were arguing,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
He added that he came out of the office when he heard the commotion to calm down his supporters.
Ahmad, however, said that the supporters ended up tearing the picture of Koh, as the frame was firmly nailed to the wall.
“Nothing serious happened,” said Ahmad who reiterated that he was subjected to unfair trial by the media.
However, according to eye witnesses present at the press conference, some of Ahmad’s supporters shouted, “sudah lah (enough)” and “bunuh dia (kill her),” at one reporter from an English daily who insisted on asking one more question.
“Of course she got angry as she was just doing her job, and the supporters were trying to intimidate her,” said a reporter who was present at the press conference.
The reporter who was verbally abused by the Umno supporters said she would check with her employer on the next course of action.
On Friday, Penang opposition leader and state Umno secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said that one reporter from a Chinese daily should be blamed for twisting Ahmad’s words.
“What was written may lead to a racial riot. If such a thing happens, he is the first person that should be shot,” said Azhar.
On Saturday, during the state Umno liaison committee meeting chaired by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Ahmad presented his case and explained that his remark was made in a historical context.
Abdullah later said that Ahmad is not a racist although he did not say whether he accepted Ahmad’s explanation.
Penang MCA severs ties with Ahmad Ismail
Himanshu Bhatt and Bernard Cheah(Sun)
GEORGE TOWN (Sept 8, 2008): Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail went on another round of offensive today against Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and the reporter who he claimed misinterpreted what he said about the Chinese at the Permatang Pauh by-election.
His press conference, which descended into shouts and abuses against reporters by Ahmad’s supporters, coincided with another by Penang MCA which declared that they would not participate in any activities organised by Ahmad or the Umno divisions which supported his stand until the issue has been resolved properly.
Ahmad shifted the blame on Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon for blowing up the matter, and called on Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to expel Gerakan from the coalition.
Ironically, Ahmad said MCA should take over the chairman’s post of Penang BN now held by Koh.
Inflamed by the rhetoric, some supporters took down a photo of Koh hanging on the wall and ripped it. They later shouted abuses at reporters.
Penang MCA chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai meanwhile announced they were severing ties with Ahmad and other state Umno divisions that supported him (all 13 Penang Umno divisions have exhibited support for Ahmad).
He said the Chinese community felt “angry, offended and disappointed” by Ahmad’s “arrogance” in not withdrawing his statement.
Liow also expressed disappointment with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi Ahmad for changing his stand after earlier asking Ahmad to apologise.
“Such remarks have caused Chinese voters to lose their confidence in BN, and MCA becomes the victim,” he said.
Ahmad’s press conference ended rancorously when Umno supporters in the room hurled angry shouts at journalists. This happened when Ahmad refused to entertain more questions after he had unleashed a tirade against Koh.
He also said the state Umno is appointing a lawyer to help him sue the Sin Chew reporter.
“Enough – don’t blame me of being a racist anymore because I am not racist. Koh Tsu Koon should ask forgiveness from the Chinese and also the Malays as well as followers of Islam for causing this situation to be tense till this level,” he said.
He said if he was racist, he would not have helped Chinese candidates in the BN win state assembly and parliamentary seats in the Bukit Bendera
constituency since 1990.
He rubbished Koh’s claim that their relationship had been strained by Koh’s refusal to extend his tenure as councillor of the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP). “This is another tactic of him to character assassinate me (sic).”
He said the respective BN parties were responsible for selecting their councillors, and Koh only had jurisdiction over Gerakan councillors.
“I do not deny that I said the Chinese are squatting (“menumpang“) in our country, but only that it was not in the context mentioned by the reporter.”
He reiterated that he had called Chinese “immigrants” in the context of the pre-independence period.
“History cannot be changed just to satisfy and make certain quarters happy. We have to accept history.”
On assertions by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders that the alleged racial statements were made to divert public’s attention from issues like corruption by the BN,
Ahmad said he got calls of support from many grassroots members from PR.