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Ketuanan Melayu in the limelight

DATUK Zaid Ibrahim’s remark on ketuanan Melayu; the disciplinary action taken by the Terengganu Menteri Besar on his executive councillor (exco); and the appointment of the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS)’s acting general manager were among the main issues in the Malay dailies from 1 to 7 Nov 2008.

Zaid and ketuanan Melayu

On 1 Nov, Utusan Malaysia reported on Zaid’s statement that the concept of ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) has failed and that it only hampers the progress of the Malays.

In his speech at the Lawasia Conference 2008, the former minister in the prime minister’s department said it has resulted in waste of vital resources, energy and time.

He said it has caused the Malays to lose sight of the importance of equality and fairness.

On 4 Nov, Berita Harian reported the reactions from several quarters. In the report, Pakar gesa Zaid keluar dari Kelantan, Malaysia, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said all parties should accept the concept of ketuanan Melayu, which has been part of the country’s history for a long time.

He said Zaid should admit that his statement had offended the Malays, and that no one should question ketuanan Melayu.

Malay Unity Action Front de facto leader Osman Abu Bakar said Zaid’s statement was a disgrace to the Malays, and that the organisation would write a letter to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the rulers on this matter.

Malay-language activist Professor Datuk Dr Zainal Kling said Zaid’s statement reflected his ignorance towards his own race’s struggles.

In another news report on the same page, Zaid said he would not apologise. In the report, Enggan minta maaf isu ketuanan, he said he was not surprised by the reactions from the Malay leaders. He said their demand for his apology was in turn an insult to his loyalty to the race.

In a 5 Nov Utusan Malaysia report, Zaid diminta henti buat keyataan, Malaysian Youth Council secretary-general Tajudin Ahmad urged Zaid to stop making statements that could cause division among the Malays.

In another report, Putera, Puteri Umno gesa Zaid mohon maaf, Puteri Umno chief Datuk Noraini Ahmad said Zaid should apologise and not prolong the issue.

“Apologising is the best way to solve the issue. Moreover, he shouldn’t have come out with such a remark that resulted in offending his own race,” she said.

Perlis Umno liaison chief Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim also joined in the fray. In a Sinar Harian report on 6 Nov, Jangan jadi Melayu jika persoal ketuanan Melayu, he warned Zaid to either stop openly questioning matters pertaining to Malay supremacy or get out of the Malay community.

Dictatorship in Terengganu

Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said, in a news report in Utusan Malaysia on 1 Nov, demanded that one of his exco members resign from his post as the chairperson of the State Infrastructure and Public Amenities Committee.

In the report, Saya ada hak gugurkan exco – Ahmad, he said the decision was due to Yahya Khatib Mohamad’s refusal to abide by Ahmad’s instruction not to compete in the state Umno polls.

Yahya won the Marang Umno Division head post on 25 Oct, defeating the incumbent head, Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar.

On 2 Nov, a Berita Harian report, Perdana menteri tegur tindakan MB Terengganu, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi criticised Ahmad for restricting qualified candidates from competing for the state’s Umno division posts.

“Umno members cannot be restrained from competing if they are qualified,” he said.

The report also said most Umno leaders criticised what Ahmad did as going against the party’s constitution, which does not bar any member from competing for posts.

On the same day, Berita Harian published a reaction from Ahmad. In the report, Ahmad Said pertahan arahan, the menteri besar was quoted as saying he had the right to dismiss exco members because it was under his jurisdiction.

“What do I care [about what the grassroots want]? He (Yahya) needs to abide by what I want, too. I am the menteri besar and have the right to choose my exco members… I appointed them. It’s the grassroots’ right to appoint division leaders, and it’s my right to appoint the exco,” he said.

In Sinar Harian‘s 6 Nov report, Umno mengalami kecelaruan, Terengganu Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Dr Abdul Manaf Che Mat described Ahmad’s action as juvenile.

However, on 4 Nov, Terengganu Umno liaison secretary Datuk Rosli Mat Hassan came to Ahmad’s defence. In a Berita Harian report, Tak harus persalahkan MB: Rosli, he said in this situation, everyone should work together to strengthen the party’s spirit as the party is like a family.

He said what’s done is done, and hoped any controversy and speculation that could tarnish Umno’s image would be put to an end.

PKNS dilemma

On 3 Nov, Sinar Harian‘s report MB tegur orang Melayu: Bangkit daripada lena! quoted Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as urging the Malays to wake up and not blame the other races for their own incompetence.

This was in response to the reaction against his decision to appoint Low Siew Moi as PKNS acting general manager for a one-year term.

“It is time the Malays appoint the best and capable leaders and at the same time assure that what is done will be fruitful,” he said.

Khalid also said the Malays should be ashamed if they failed to execute their jobs capably.

On 2 Nov, Utusan Malaysia published a front-page reaction from PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang on Low’s appointment.

In Hadi mahu penjelasan, the daily said Abdul Hadi wanted an explanation from the Selangor government.

“All I can say in general is that the nation’s governance and administration must be spearheaded by Muslim Malays,” he was quoted as saying.

“I can’t make further comments because I need to ask for an explanation from our friends in Selangor first,” he said.

In an Utusan Malaysia report on 3 Nov, Khalid said Selangor PKR would explain the appointment to Abdul Hadi.

He said the appointment of a non-bumiputera should not be an issue because it is Islamic to appoint anyone who is capable and competent.

Khalid also said the earlier report by Utusan Malaysia was a deliberate attempt to break up the Pakatan Rakyat, which comprises PAS, PKR and the DAP.

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