Tengku Razaleigh hit the nail on the head with his statement last week; that UMNO is now perceived as a rascist party.

UMNO leaders should not surprised by this perception, when its members make racist statements in public. Most recently, Bukit Bendera UMNO chief Mr. Ahmad Ismail, who allegedly called the Chinese community as pendatang, or immigrants.

And what was UMNO’s response to this alleged racist remark? Here’s from UMNO President, BN Chairman and our prime minister, Mr. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, taken from the Star:

Ahmad didn’t mean it, says Abdullah

KEPALA BATAS: Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will personally see to it that Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail does not repeat his remarks about the Chinese community.

“I will tell him not to do it again. You know in a campaign all sorts of things can come up. I don’t think he meant it. I’ll make sure to tell him not to use it again,” the Prime Minister said after chairing the Bertam Umno division meeting yesterday.

Ahmad had allegedly called the Chinese pendatang (immigrants) and was also reported to have said that “as the Chinese were only immigrants it was impossible to achieve equal rights amongst races” during a ceramah in Permatang Pauh in Aug 25.

He had allegedly uttered the remarks in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Penang Gerakan Youth committee member Dr Thor Teong Gee lambasted Ahmad and charged that Umno was still using racial ideology to achieve its own personal political agenda.

Bukit Mertajam MCA division chairman Lau Chiek Tuan called for disciplinary action against Ahmad.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary Ng Wei Aik also called on Ahmad to immediately retract his statement and apologise to the community.

Ahmad could not be reached for comment.

Tanjung Gerakan Youth division chief H’ng Khoon Leng lodged a police report at the district police headquarters in Patani Road over Ahmad’s alleged remarks.

MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said there was no reason for Ahmad to stir racial feelings with his remarks.

“This is the Merdeka month and such a racist remark should not have been made,” he added.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Umno leaders should stop using racial sentiment to seek support from the people.

That’s no punishment. It’s not even a slap on the wrist. In fact, I’d daresay that it’s not even acknowledging that Mr. Ahmad had done something wrong. ‘He will be told not to repeat it again’? ‘He didn’t mean it’? I’m sorry Mr. Prime Minister, that’s just not good enough. If Mr. Ahmad really did utter those words, then we DEMAND that he be punished! No wonder the other component parties are not happy.

Taken from Malaysiakini:

Gerakan mahu Ahmad dikenakan tindakan

Gerakan, parti komponen Barisan  Nasional (BN), hari ini mahu tindakan diambil ke atas Ketua Umno bahagian Bukit Bendera Datuk Ahmad Ismail berhubung kenyataannya yang bersifat hasutan terhadap masyarakat Cina.

Semasa satu ceramah di Permatang Pauh pada 25 Ogos lepas, Ahmad didakwa mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa mereka hanyalah penduduk sementara di negara ini dan oleh itu adalah mustahil untuk mendapat hak yang sama di negara ini.

Setiausaha Agung Gerakan Datuk seri Chia Kwang Chye berkata ramai rakyat Malaysia kecewa dengan kenyataan Perdana Menteri dan Presiden Umno Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi apabila mengulas mengenai kenyataan Datuk Ahmad Ismail.

“Mereka menjangka satu kecaman yang kuat, terutama pada 31 Ogos, hari di mana semua rakyat Malaysia menyambut ulang tahun kemerdekaan negara.

“Selepas 51 tahun mencapai kemerdekaan, sebarang kesangsian mengenai kesetiaan mana-mana penduduk etnik Malaysia dan tindakan mempersoal kewarganegaraan adalah melampaui usaha menyemai persefahaman di kalangan rakyat Malaysia,” katanya dalam satu kenyataan, demikian menurut laporan Bernama.

Menjelang hari pengundian bagi pilihanraya kecil Parlimen Permatang Pauh minggu lalu, Ahmad didakwa membuat kenyataan itu dan semalam, ketika mengulas mengenai perkara itu Abdullah berkata beliau akan “memberitahu Ahmad jangan mengulangi lagi perkara itu.”

“Anda tahu semasa berkempen pelbagai perkara boleh timbul. Saya tidak fikir beliau bermaksud sedemikian. Saya akan pastikan untuk memberitahu dia jangan gunakan perkataan itu lagi,” kata Abdullah semalam.

Chia berkata kenyataan Ahmad sudah lapuk dan menimbulkan provokasi  perkauman sambil menambah sebarang petanda bahawa BN bertolak ansur dengan mereka yang jelas bersikap perkauman dan mengeluarkan pendapat yang bersifat provokasi akan memberi isyarat yang salah kepada rakyat.

“Ahmad Ismail bukan sahaja patut menarik balik apa yang diucapkannya tetapi perlu meminta maaf kepada semua rakyat Malaysia dan juga dikenakan tindakan disiplin bagi mengelak perkara itu daripada berulang,” katanya.

Sementara itu, Naib Presiden Gerakan Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan dalam satu kenyataannya mendesak pimpinan Umno dan BN untuk mengkaji semula pendirian terhadap Ahmad.

Beliau meminta polis menyiasat perkara itu memandangkan MCA dan Gerakan telahpun membuat laporan terhadap Ahmad.

Somehow, I don’t think the police will do anything against Mr. Ahmad. Heck, I don’t even think they’ll investigate the matter. I mean, it is after all an UMNO division chief who said those remarks, not Mr. Karpal Singh or Mr. Lim Guan Eng or even Mr. Khalid Ibrahim. We’ve got two different sets of rules, don’t you know?

As long as UMNO keeps spewing these racist rhetoric, as longs as it keep hurting the feelings of other races, then the support it lost from both Malays and non-Malays will return. UMNO’s humiliating loss in Permatang Pauh shoud be a lesson to it that playing the race card will not work on the majority of Malaysians. However, it does not seem that UMNO has learnt its lesson.

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