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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 15th April 2009: 

How many Ministers in Najib Cabinet are like Muhyiddin and Tee Keat who cannot pass UPSR as they do not know the meaning of “membalas budi”?

What Malaysians want to know is how many Ministers in the 29-strong Najib Cabinet are like Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat who cannot pass UPSR (Ujian Penilian Sekolah Rendah) as they do not know the meaning of “membalas budi”.

Any ordinary Std. 3 or 4 primary school student would know the meaning of “membalas budi” or “mengenang budi” which would have been discussed in their moral education classes and it is inconceivable that a primary school student could pass the UPSR if he or she does not understand the meaning of this term.

It is most shocking therefore that the new Deputy Prime Minister who is also the new Education Minister is so “challenged” as to be unable to properly understand the meaning of this term. Even more shocking, the MCA President who is wont to flaunt his literary skills, also finds it difficult to fully understand this term and its implications which any primary student should know.

To avoid being accused of distorting what he said or taking his words out of context, let me reproduce the New Straits Times report of what Muhyiddin said yesterday:


DPM: It is not what I said

By : Hamidah Atan

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin took several Chinese newspapers to task for allegedly misquoting him as having said in a recent interview that the Chinese were ungrateful.

"I have spoken to Tee Keat and he said there was nothing wrong with my statement," Muhyiddin said, referring to MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.

"It was twisted by the Chinese dailies. My Bahasa Melayu is straight and clear. I was just making an assessment of Bukit Gantang. There is nothing to be concerned about, but when you twist the whole thing and put me in bad light among the Chinese community, that is serious.

"You have to read the whole context, do not pick up like that. I think I am good in my Bahasa but some people did not understand my language. Do not distort my statement to make the people angry as if I do not appreciate the Chinese community."

Muhyiddin was speaking to reporters after taking over the Education Ministry portfolio yesterday.

The Umno deputy president said he mentioned in the interview that the Bukit Gantang by-election results seemed to show that "what we have done to overcome issues was not appreciated".

"It was in that context and it did not apply to all. We conducted a post-mortem of all by-elections and we analysed. Sometimes, we are frank as we do not want to hide things."

"I said in the interview that we must understand why this (lack of non-Malay support) happened, why the Chinese are like that, why the Malays are like that, but not saying the Chinese are good or bad.

"I was talking about the issues in Bukit Gantang. In other places, the context may be different."

Muhyiddin said the BN had yet to establish whether the lack of non-Malay support in Bukit Gantang reflected overall sentiment in the country.

"This has yet to be seen as we have not made any assessment of the overall situation."

Muhyiddin is defending the indefensible as anyone who reads his Mingguan Malaysia interview can only draw one conclusion, that the Chinese press had given a fair and accurate translation of what Muhyiddin actually said, and that Muhyiddin’s denial that he had not described the Chinese as “ungrateful” cannot be supported by any independent or fair-minded person.

This is why I find the endorsement given by the MCA President stating that “there is nothing wrong” with Muhyiddin’s Mingguan Malaysia interview most unbelievable.

In defending his position, Tee Keat said that to “uphold the spirit of democracy, we should respect differing views, even if we cannot concur with.”

He said: “The Deputy Prime Minister can voice his views on the results of the Bukit Gantang by-election, and so can I.

“I see nothing wrong for him to express his observations and views.”

Tee Keat is deliberately avoiding the real issue – which is not about Muhyiddin’s views, however perverse and retrogressive about the results of the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections, but Muhyiddin’s statement “I have spoken to Tee Keat and he said there was nothing wrong with my statement".

As Tee Keat did not deny that he had made such a statement as claimed by Muhyiddin, we can take it that Muhyiddin was telling the truth.

Can Tee Keat explain why as MCA President, he had told Muhyiddin that “there was nothing wrong” with the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mingguan Malaysia interview criticising the Chinese for being “ungrateful” and “unappreciative” in the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections?

If there is total silence on this issue after the first Najib Cabinet meeting, then Malaysians are entitled to wonder whether they have a Cabinet of 29 Ministers who have problems like Muhyiddin and Tee Keat in passing the UPSR!

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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