Update: Who does Ahmad Ismail of Bukit Bendera act for? Who gains from his acts?- an analysis from a blogger from Down Under.
Original Posting: An Editor of a Chinese daily called me up yesterday afternoon to ask me about "the latest on the ground". He sounded anxious. "The Army chief has just called on the Government to take action against those behind racial tension. When was the last time an Army chief interferes? What do you think?" [Read here]
I think the Government should be firm in handling racially-sensitive issues without having to resort to regressive measures [read the All-Blogs' joint press statement with Centre of Policy Initiatives here]. Using the ISA on the so-called racist extremists (as in the case of the Hindraf 5, for example) has proved futile. On the contrary, political parties and civil society movement have hailed Hindraf as heroes and saviors, and hardly penalize them for their extreme views about the Malays.
Ahmad Ismail, who'll know his fate today [read here] is not the first Malay politician to play with this racial fire. Two years ago, Khairy Jamaluddin was dancing in the same fire when he said that BN component parties (read the Chinese-based component parties) would take advantage of a weak Umno.
Remember how incensed the MCA and Gerakan leaders were? Didn't they call KJ a racist? Didn't the son-in-law refuse to apologize?
And remember how the Prime Minister responded then?
General August 27, 2006 15:57 PM
PM Says Khairy Himself Should Clarify His sensitive Statement
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Umno Youth deputy head Khairy Jamaluddin should himself clarify his statement that is said to have offended the Chinese community.
"The statement has been made. I do not what he had actually said but this is a matter that Khairy himself has to respond to and clarify," he said.
Abdullah, who is Umno president and Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, said Khairy could explain the actual meaning of his statement, which might differ from what had been reported in the media.
It was reported recently that Khairy, the son-in-law of the prime minister, had said that the Chinese community would take advantage of Umno if the party was split.
BN component parties MCA and Gerakan reacted to the statement and it was a hot topic at yesterday's MCA Youth assembly where the delegates wanted Khairy to make an open apology to the Chinese community.
Speaking to reporters after launching the exhibition of the 2006 Putrajaya National Water Colour Painting Competition at the National Art Gallery here, Abdullah reminded BN leaders to exercise caution when making statements lest they give rise to misunderstanding.
"A cautious approach is most important because in the BN we have parties that represent the various communities and when any sensitive statement is made they will surely react to such a statement," he said.
That was pre-March 8, of course. Like NST group editor Syed Nadzri says, we live in a brave new world now. And Ahmad Ismail is not the PM's son-in-law. And ironically, with a weaker Umno, the BN component parties have been behaving just as KJ had predicted.