Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, said Wednesday that frayed relations between the country's religious and racial groups had reached a "worrying" level and warned that the government would not hesitate to crack down to preserve peace between them. "Freedom has its limits," Abdullah said in a nationally televised speech to his party that serves as an annual state of the union address for the country. "I would like to warn those who abuse this freedom that I will not for a moment hesitate to use the law against them." Abdullah's threats were a marked shift in tone for a prime minister who previously portrayed himself as more conciliatory and compassionate than his predecessor, Mahathir bin Mohamad.However, according to Bernama here, quoting the same Dollah Badawi, race and religious tensions have not reached worrying level.
Racial and religious tensions in Malaysia have not reached worrying level, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Thursday.According to the Bernama article, in his keynote address when opening the 57th assembly Wednesday, what the PM actually said was:
"Not worrying level as far as I am concerned but it is time to remind the people and to lay down the ground rule and that is exactly I have said (yesterday)," he said.
"But of late, we see increased polemics on issues related to race and religion. And it has reached a level where it is now worrying."Don't you get it? Jakarta-based blogger Unspun seems to get it and sounds pretty worried.
Update 17 Nov 3pm: Delegates at the Umno general assembly agreed this morning that IHT should carry a correction on its front page article. They probably were not informed that The Al-Jazeera also has a similar story, "Racial Tensions on Rise in Malaysia".
[Here for the Bernama story on delegates demanding a correction by IHT; here for Al-Jazeera's]