Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on
Monday, 3rd November 2008:
Shahidan Kassim owes Zaid Ibrahim,
Malays and all Malaysians an apology
We have seen the brandishing of the keris,
racial remarks that are disrespectful of the non-Malays and UMNO leaders
play on racial sentiments. Now we have Perlis UMNO liaison chief Datuk
Seri Shahidan Kassim asking former Minister in the Prime Minister's
Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim to leave the Malay race over his remarks
on 'Ketuanan Melayu'.
World leaders and heads of states are hammering out ideas to ward off an
impending economic disaster. We read reports of daily meetings by key
policy makers on ways to counter the global economic downturn.
But in Malaysia, we have a senior UMNO politician asking a Malay to stop
being a Malay. That too because Zaid questioned the policies of the
government and said "Ketuanan Melayu" is detrimental to the Malay race
and had caused wastage to resources that could have been used to address
Since when does the Malay spirit not allow people to question the
policies of the government and UMNO? Does embracing the Malay spirit
involve keeping silent when injustice and misrule happens? Is keeping
silent in the face of wrongdoing part of the Malay spirit? Is promoting
the rights of all Malaysians un- Malay? Is providing hard criticisms
against Malay by another Malay considered anti Malay?
The list could go on.
In reality, Shahidan is an embarrassment to the nation. His unthinking
remarks show he is not interested in independent progressive views,
race-relations, fundamentals of democracy, transparency and
accountability. Shahidan clearly wants others to zip up and play
In fact he wants more of the same and this clearly suggests that there
is no room for change in UMNO.
The Malays are acutely aware that the 'Ketuanan Malay', special
privileges and affirmative-action had only benefitted those close to
UMNO elite. The so-called government policies to uplift the status of
the Malays did not reach the poor and vulnerable people.
It is this very realisation which created a backlash for the government
and UMNO at the March 8 general election. The Malays rejected UMNO and
voted for the opposition, denying the government its two third- majority
UMNO was dealt with a severe blow which forced the Prime Minister
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to hastily announce he would step down before UMNO
internal election in March.
UMNO leaders took an unprecedented whack but unfortunately no one learnt
their lesson. They still skirt around racial issues in the hope of
creating a smoke screen and regaining the confidence of the public and
primarily Malays, who once formed the grass root support for UMNO.
It is high time that UMNO leaders try to read the pulse of the people
and especially Malays. Malaysians, in the wake of the electoral victory,
are pushing for greater rights, transparency and accountability.
No one would be taken in with flowery words, false promises and public
show of support for the Malay community which does not translate into
better living standards, job security and distribution of wealth and
opportunities without the need for crony connections.
Zaid has commanded the respect of the people for throwing in the towel
over arbitrary arrests under the Internal Security Act, which negates
Shahidan, on the other hand, must apologise to Zaid for his ludicrous
suggestion and to the Malays and Malaysians for treating them like they
are an ignorant lot.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang