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Khairy has made an “Unhappy Deepavali” yesterday into an “Angry Deepavali” for many when his uncalled-for attack on the Indian community at the UMNO General Assembly was telecast on RTM in the afternoon

Media Statement (2)         
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Friday): UMNO Deputy Youth Leader and the Prime Minister’s son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin made the “Unhappy Deepavali” yesterday into an “Angry Deepavali” for many when his uncalled-for attack on the Indian community at the UMNO General Assembly was telecast on RTM in the afternoon.

Malaysians, both Hindus and non-Hindus, were taken aback and outraged when they saw the telecast of Khairy blaming the Indians as the cause why the UMNO President, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s presidential address at the UMNO General Assembly was not published yesterday, apart from Utusan Malaysia and Oriental Daily.

Khairy had said in the UMNO General Assembly debate yesterday morning: “Today is the first time the UMNO president’s speech is not being read by the masses because a particular ethnic group controls the distribution line of newspapers and they are on holiday.”

Already, Hindus were not in much celebratory mood although it was Deepavali yesterday. In fact, there were those who were in “protest” mode because of the increasing signs of lack of proper respect for all religions in the country and especially after the insensitive and sacrilegious demolition of the 40-year-old Sri Maha Mariaman Temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya in Shah Alam when Deepavali was just a week away.

The holding of the UMNO General Assembly during Deepavali, a gazette public holiday, had also upset many Malaysians, both Hindus and non-Hindus, as it seems to point to a growing pattern of insensitivity by the powers-that-be in the country.

If the MIC, MCA or Gerakan had held their annual party assemblies during Hari Raya holidays, it would have been regarded as highly insensitive, offensive and unacceptable – and undoubtedly pressures would have been brought to bear to move such assemblies to another date.

Why wasn’t the same consideration given in the case of this year’s UMNO General Assembly clashing with Deepavali – as the excuse that Abdullah had a “tight schedule’ is simply just unacceptable?

Adding insult to injury, Deepavali and the Indian news vendors are now being blamed for their “lack of respect” for the UMNO President for having a press holiday on the day after Abdullah’s UMNO Presidential address!

What is even more galling is Khairy’s criticism of “a particular ethnic group” for its “control of the distribution line of newspapers” when the Indian community as a whole has become the most marginalized group, even a new underclass, 50 years after Merdeka – a fact admitted by none other than the MIC President, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

Instead of ensuring that the Indians in Malaysia can participate equitably and fully in the economic development of the country, is Khairy suggesting further marginalization of the Indian community?

Khairy should apologize to the Indian community for his uncalled-for and most unwarranted aspersions on the Indian community yesterday.


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

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