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Most disappointed by Abdullah’s winding-up speech at the worst Umno General Assembly in decades from the standpoint of  nation-building


Speech in Siputeh DAP Building Fund dinner
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Kuala Lumpur, Friday) :  In his Umno Presidential address on Wednesday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that “of late, we see increased polemics on issues related to race and religion” which has “reached a level where it is now worrying”.


The five-day Umno general assemblies (including the Umno Youth General Assenbly) saw the worst manifestation of such negative, divisive and destructive “polemics on issues related to race and religion” which should make Abdullah even more worried.


For the second consecutive year, an Umno delegate repeated the May 13 threat while the Umno Youth leader, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein again wielded the Malay keris – highlighting his total insensitivity as his keris-wielding last year had provoked strong protests even from the MCA and MCA Youth.  This time, however, not a single MCA and MCA Youth leader  dared to raise  a squeak of protest!


The Umno general assembly this year is even worse than last year and must rank as the worst Umno General Assembly in decades from the standpoint of nation-building.  An Umno delegate even  warned that “Umno is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood” while another delegate warned that the Malays can go “amok”.


Why must Umno delegates threaten May 13, talk about “bathe in blood” and warn about Malays  going amok?


If a Malaysian Chinese or Indian politician had warned of riots, being prepared to shed blood or even going amok, the Internal Security Act would have been invoked and the Kamunting Detention Centre would be waiting for him for a spell of detention-without-trial..


It is most shocking however that in his winding-up speech this evening, Abdullah not only found nothing wrong in such threats and warnings, but defended such extremist, incendiary  and even seditious utterances on race and religion, claiming that it was good that Umno delegates had had their say to let off steam.


Will Abdullah have such a benigh attitude  if the Malaysian Chinese or Indians had been equally  vocal, extremist, incendiary and seditious on race and religion so that they can  have their say to let off steam?


Let me state here and now that I am very disappointed by Abdullah’s winding-up speech in condoning such extremist, incendiary and seditious polemics on race and religion by Umno leaders.


Another reason why I find Abdullah’s winding-up speech most disappointing is that he is beginning to be guilty of “double talk”, saying something which has different meanings for different groups whether  in Barisan Nasional or among the people.


I will give two instances.


In his Umno Presidential speech, Abdullah said “20 years allocated to achieve the objectives of the NEP was too short a period – an unrealistic timeframe to successfully restructure society and eradicate poverty”.


When this elicited criticism that NEP has become a “Never Ending Policy” and  the shock that such a statement should come from a Prime Minister 36 years after the launching of the NEP or 16 years after its intended end – with the NEP controversy becoming more and more sensitive when it should be less and less sensitive -  Abdullah then said  that the NEP ended in 1990,  that there was no extension of that policy and that it was the  two NEP objectives of eradicating poverty and restructuring society  that the government was still pursuing.


But the Ministers and leaders in Umno and Barisan Nasional do not know that the NEP had ended in 1990 and has not been extended or revived as demanded by Umno Youth last year. This was probably why the Wanita Umno leader and Minister for International Trade and Industry,


Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz  specifically said  that the NEP  and Malay interests would not be sacrificed in any trade pacts with any country, including the United states , in her winding-up speech just before Abdullah’s speech.


Even Khairy Jamaluddin, his son-in-law and the “power-behind-the-throne” or the comptroller of the powerful Fourth Storey in Putrajaya  according to Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, did not know.  This was why at the end of the Umno Youth general assembly onTuesday, Khairy accused former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim  for being a traitor of the Malay race for proposing the end of the NEP.


Khairy would not have made such a silly accusation against Anwar if the NEP had ended in 1990, as Anwar’s proposal  would have been a non-issue.


The other example is when Abdullah spoke of the sanctity of the social contract agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the attainment of Independence as the cardinal basis of  Malayan and Malaysian nation-building.


Abdullah said on Wednesday: “We have to adhere steadfastly to the social contract and what is enshrined in the Federal Constitution to which all the major communities and the different states agreed on at the birth of our nation.”


But the “social contract” agreed by our forefathers on the attainment of Independence, and understood by the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn is not the “social contract” intended by Abdullah.


The Merdeka  “social contract” had very clear import -  that Malaysia is a multi-racial, democratic secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, whether ala-PAS or ala-Islam Hadhari.


Abdullah had however  followed Mahathir in arbitrarily and unconstitutionally altering  the Merdeka social contract as to claim that Malaysia is an Islamic state and not a secular nation – completely in conflict with the public positions of the first three Prime Ministers that the Merdeka social contract and Constitution had conceived a multi-religious secular nation and not an Islamic state.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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