PUTRAJAYA, 9 Sept 2008: The government has called on Malaysians to move forward and exercise restraint to ease the tension in the country resulting from some fiery statements by certain politicians and commentators over the past fortnight.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said there was an urgent need for Malaysians to come together and work together for the benefit of the nation through greater tolerance and harmony.
"This country belongs to all of us together…we must not fan the flames of emotion," he told a media briefing at his office here today. Present was the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Ismail Omar.
Syed Hamid conceded that the government was concerned about the "delicate situation" in the country as far as race relations were concerned following strong views put forward by certain people.
He said the present environment was not a pleasant one and it felt as if "we have forgotten that we are Malaysians."
"We must get out of this present situation, let us try to contain it,” he said.
Syed Hamid said that public order in the country might be in jeopardy if the situation got out of hand.
"Let us embrace each other’s feelings," he said, stressing the importance for Malaysians of different races to see each other’s point of view.
Syed Hamid said Malaysians must act with restraint on the issue of race relations and should stress the well-being of the country through greater tolerance and harmony.
Malaysians, he said, had overcome many difficulties in the past by acting rationally and responsibly.
The police were watching the situation and would act if necessary, he added.
Meanwhile in KUALA LUMPUR Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) chief General Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal today called on the government to take stern action on anyone who raises racial issues as it is a serious matter which can threaten the security of the nation.
"Racial issues should not be raised as they are a threat to national security," he said at the presentation of Hari Raya goodies ceremony by Wanita Umno to the MAF and Royal Malaysia Police here today.
Abdul Aziz said this in light of the many polemics recently in relation to racial issues.
Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail angered the Chinese community by making a statement at a rally in Permatang Pauh on 23 Oct that had racial overtones. He is alleged to have said that the Chinese community were squatters in the country and that it was impossible for them to have equal rights as the bumiputeras.
The statement angered Gerakan and MCA leaders who demanded that Ahmad apologise openly, which he refused to do.
Abdul Aziz said racial issues could raise tensions if not addressed early.
"In reality, racial issues are a major threat to the country and must be avoided," he stressed. – Bernama