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Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee in Labis on Tuesday, 25th January 2011:

Open warfare between MCA and UMNO proves that the BN coalition is in complete disarray

The open warfare between UMNO Deputy President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek on the simple issue of respecting an individual's religious sensitivity proves that the BN coalition is a 50-year marriage of convenience which is cracking at the seams.

Muhyiddin had to openly chastise Dr Chua to respect the choices of an individual, particularly one's religious beliefs, specifically with regard to the issue of Muslim women "shaking hands" with men. As the Pakatan Rakyat parties have all pointed out, and agreed by Muhyiddin, there are many other issues of importance to discuss in an election, than about whether a Muslim woman should shake men's hands.

Dr Chua in return, rebuked Muhyiddin for bringing the issue into the open instead of "communicating through internal channels". He told reporters yesterday that they could go and tell Muhyiddin what he just said. Instead of putting the issue to a close, he persisted by repeating his claim that "shaking hands" is "good manners", implying that the PAS candidate, Cikgu Normala Sudirman had bad manners for sticking to her religious beliefs.

The strain between the two race-based parties is completely understandable given that UMNO and MCA seeks only to draw the votes of Malays and Chinese respectively and do not care about the sentiments of the other communities. MCA for example, isn't bother about the impact of its comments on Malay Muslims because it will do all that is necessary, including playing on the fear of Islam to gain the votes of the Chinese. On the other hand, UMNO will not hesitate to play on the Malay's fear of losing political power to the Chinese to frighten the Malays into voting for UMNO.

The strategy is failing today because of a more instantaneous and open media catalysed by the online newspapers which transformed the media landscape which was previously controlled with an iron fist by BN.

On the other hand, it is the Pakatan Rakyat parties which have proven itself in slowly but surely disintegrating the racial barriers and silos with its leaders endorsing a Common Policy Platform, and criss-crosses all party ceramahs demonstrating on our ability to speak with a common voice. It is ironical that while the bonds of the 3 parties in Pakatan Rakyat, which is accused of being a marriage of convenience is only getting stronger by the day with increased understanding and cooperation, the Barisan Nasional is tearing at the seams with its leaders unable to see eye-to-eye with each other.

Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek sheer ignorance and arrogance confirms MCA as the Malaysian chauvinist association with utter disregard for other races, religion and culture and a complete failure of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak's "1Malaysia".

In dismissing Muhyiddin's "instruction" to stop playing on the issue of handshakes, Dr Chua pleaded ignorance about the religious sensitivities by arguing that he does not practice Islam.

He was quoted saying "So what is so great about that? That is your religious value which I don't know. How am I to know about the religious values when I'm not practicing that religion?"

He further argued that "I have a right to say that its basic manners to shake hands with people. That's my values. Understand? You must also value my value, which is good manners, which include shaking hands."

The fact that he claimed he is completely ignorant about Islam just because he is not a Muslim proves that the MCA President and his party are chauvinists who have little regard and respect for other religions and cultures.

Dr Chua makes a complete mockery of the Prime Minister's "1Malaysia" slogan by admitting that he is completely separated from the other communities in the country and is completely not interested in integrating with them through greater race and religious understanding. This is despite the fact that he has spent more than a decade as a senior Johor state executive councillor and a Cabinet Minister.

His statement that "you must also value my value, which is good manners" smacks of unbridled arrogance where he expects Cikgu Normala and other Muslims to accept and adopt his moral values, despite his own lack of understanding and interest in the values of other communities. It is difficult to a more bigoted statement than what Dr Chua told the press yesterday.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong shows he's not a man of his words for the unbelievable flip-flop over his baseless accusation that Cikgu Normala Sudirman questioned a coffee shop owner for selling alcohol.

Yesterday, the China Press reported that Deputy Agriculture Minister and MP for Labis Datuk Chua Tee Yong accused Cikgu Normala of questioning a coffee shop owner for selling beer during her walkabout. The accusation was obviously a ploy to scare the non-Malay community that PAS will curtail the rights of non-Muslims if they were to win the by-election.

PAS Johor had given Chua 24 hours to apologise and retract his false allegations or face the threat of a defamation suit. In an immediate response to The Malaysian Insider over the issue, Chua stood by his remarks by refused to name the shop.

Chua was quoted as saying "Of course I cannot name the shop. The owner wants to remain anonymous.

However, within a few hours after the above comments, Chua now denies ever having made the accusation. He explained that he was merely conveying the fact that a voter had asked him about a "hypothetical" situation should she win the by-election.

Even a twelve year old would have found his denial hard to believe. I strongly advise Chua to be man enough to admit to his mistake and apologise to Normala for having made the baseless accusation against her, instead of attempting to cover a lie with a bigger one, and as a result, digging a deeper hole for himself.

If he still insists on sticking to his new version of the story, then I call upon Chua to demand that both China Press and The Malaysian Insider to issue a correction to the story as well as an apology for the blatant and grievous error which has been committed. This is because if Chua didn't make the allegation against Normala, then both the reporters must have independently made up the story.

Should he try to evade the issue by remaining elegantly silent, that he has completely his credibility and integrity, and is unfit to be the people's parliamentary representative in Labis, much less a Deputy Minister.

* Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara



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