KUALA LUMPUR: While Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s remarks on “arrogant non-Malays” can be considered seditious, the country’s moderates are against the minister being charged with sedition.
Instead, they said the way to thumb noses at such “racist remarks” is to move forward and show that all Malaysians can come together.
Global Movement of Moderates chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah felt that instead of charging the Umno vice-president under the draconian Sedition Act, leaders should just counter his statement with facts.
“This looks like incitement on the grounds of race but maybe (Ahmad) Zahid has no intention to cause any harm. Whatever it is, I am not for charging him under the current Sedition Act. We should just rebut him and the people can judge for themselves,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Newly-formed Negara-ku founder Zaid Kamaruddin said Ahmad Zahid’s statement in blaming all for the misdemeanours of a few can create discord and disharmony.
“One would expect a minister to show us the way to build good ethnic and religious relations instead of harming it,” he said.
Centre for a Better Tomorrow (CenBet) co-president Lim Chee Wee said he was not surprised over Ahmad Zahid’s statements given his previous racist-tinged comments.
“That he is a senior member of the Cabinet making such comments with impunity reinforces speculation that [Prime Minister Datuk Seri] Najib [Razak] is weak or does not believe in his vision of Malaysia. I can only pray for this country,” he said.
TheSun had quoted Ahmad Zahid as saying Malays are now paying the price for being kind to non-Malays and as a result, they are insulting the bumiputera, royalty and Islam.
In contrast to the moderates, Ahmad Zahid has come under fire from his allies in the ruling Barisan Nasional for worsening race relations in Malaysia. A Gerakan Youth leader has even called for Ahmad Zahid to be charged with sedition. Leaders of MIC, MCA and Gerakan said if TheSun’s report on Sept 1 quoting Ahmad Zahid’s disparaging remarks against other races was indeed true, they were uncalled for.
In a statement, Gerakan Youth deputy chief Andy Yong said the Sedition Act should be applied to Ahmad Zahid if Universiti Malaya law professor Dr Azmi Sharon could be charged for his opinion on the Selangor menteri besar crisis.
MIC youth chief C Sivarrajh said as a minister, Ahmad Zahid should be mindful of his words even though he spoke at a closed-door party gathering. — The Malaysian Insider
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 3, 2014.