Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Umno plays its racist card in Perak as outrage spreads across all ethnic groups

Despite whipping up a storm of criticism, Umno is expected to stay stubbornly unrepentant and keep playing its favourite racial card, in a bid to stir up a groundswell of support amongst the Malays against arch rival Pakatan Rakyat.

Umno leaders Ahmad Shabery Cheek and Muhyiddin Yassin have been among those resorted to harsh language, calling the Pakatan’s refusal to accept the Perak Sultan’s appointment of a new Barisan Nasional state government as ‘treason’.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim upped the ante by announcing last night that Pakatan would not sue the Sultan for his decision, although the coalition maintains it is still the legitimate state government.

The opposition icon also denied talk that the Pakatan did not protect the rights of Malays, as accused by Umno.

“But who was given Genting Highlands? Lim Goh Tong. How about Pangkor? When Barisan Nasional gives land to Chinese bosses, it is fine.

But when we give a bit of land to poor Chinese, they turn it into a racial issue,” he said, referring to the Pakatan’s popular plan of awarding freehold land to all low-income groups including non-Malays.

Not just the Malays or PAS

State Umno deputy chief Ahmad Zahid Hamidi too is accusing PAS of being exploited by its Pakatan partners, PKR and DAP.

“Only one race was there and what was the use of having a coalition government when the Malays were only exploited by other races,” said Zahid. “Not that I want to be racist but the reality is only race was there. Where were representatives from other parties of the alliance? If they are really united, everybody was supposed to be there.”

He was referring to a street protest that took place outside a mosque nearby the Palace on Friday, when BN candidate Zambry Kadir was being sworn-in by the Sultan to replace Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

However, what Zahid chose not to mention was that the crowd, which wanted to protest the Sultan’s decision to sack Nizar, had earlier joined the PAS leader for special prayers at the mosque.

Unsurprising then, that its composition was mostly Malay and supportive of PAS. Umno Youth is also planning to hold a demonstration in Perak to garner support for the Sultan.

“Obviously, Umno would do this. Firstly, the Sultan sided them, so to criticise the Sultan is to criticise them,” said a political analyst. “Secondly, whenever Umno is in trouble and want to cover up its wrongdoing, it will bring out the racial card and try to scare everyone else into submission.”

Not only DAP alone but all ethnic groups are also upset

Political watchers following the crisis in Perak pointed out that large numbers of non-Malays had attended ceramahs held at Nizar’s official residence on Friday and Sunday night.

The feelings of outrage are spreading across the different ethnic groups, who feel their rights have been trampled on by their Sultan and Umno-BN.

In fact, the dissatisfaction in the Chinese community is so strong that Deputy Premier Najib Abdul Razak, who masterminded the coup d'etat against Nizar, decided against attending a Chinese New Year function in Ipoh on Saturday night for fear of being condemned in the event.

On Sunday morning, at least 720 signatures were collected within 90 minutes during a petition signing at the Jelapang market, that demanded the immediate resignation of DAP state assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong.

Hee has incurred the wrath of the Perak Chinese, who believe she has betrayed the community by switching allegiance to the BN. The multi-racial Pakatan line-up is fairly representative of the composition of the Perak population, but only one BN assemblyman is non-Malay.

It was the same with Perak Indians, who overwhelmingly showed their support for Nizar versus Zambry during the duo’s respective visits to the Arulmigusubramania Temple in Gunung Cheroh for the Thaipusam festival.

Although Zambry - in typical Umno tradition - pledged to give RM100,000 to the temple, it was the simple but sincere Nizar who won the hears of the Indians, who all loudly cheered for him throughout his visit.

“We do not accept Barisan Nasional-Umno as the government, our Mentri Besar is Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin,” 26-year old M Vigneswary was reported as saying when interviewed at the Jelapang market.

The Barisan Nasional-Umno had established a rebel state government.

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