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Friday, October 29, 2010

Sorry if you are offended, says Johari


By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Titiwangsa Umno division chief Johari Abdul Ghani today apologised for a "racially charged" remark uttered at a closed-door Umno division meeting in July this year.

"I would like to sincerely apologise to you for being offended by the extract of my speech and I wish to assure you that my interest is to serve the people especially in the Titiwangsa parliamentary constituency and Malaysians generally," he said in his blog posting in reply to an e-mailed letter sent to him by a person named Melinder Kaur.

His posting could be accessed at http://joharighani.blogspot.com/.

Johari courted controversy when his speech was posted on YouTube. He was seen telling the closed- door division meeting that Umno could take the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat if it could convince 70% of the Malay voters to back the party.

If this could be done, he said, there was no need for Chinese and Indian votes.

This statement earned him a backlash not only from non-Malays but also fellow party colleagues with some asking stern action be taken against him.

"The video recording of the speech, or rather the extracts of it, was made during a closed-door discussion among members of Umno in July 2010,” Johari said.

He added that the discussion was part of a series of talks following the 2008 general election “where, as we all know, Barisan National suffered the loss of an unprecedented number of seats and five states”.

"Obviously shaken, Umno began an almost immediate post-mortem and detailed analysis of the results and the trends of voting among the various races in this country. The post-mortem led to one major conclusion – the loss of the Malay support for the ruling BN,” Johari said.

"This is especially so in the parliamentary constituency of which I am now in charge, Titiwangsa, which was lost to the opposition. The constituency has always been a BN stronghold, therefore, the loss was shocking, to say the least," he said.

He said the closed-door discussion was centred mainly on the Malay votes and the approach needed by Umno to regain Malay trust and support.

'Statement taken out of context'

Added Johari: "Seeing the racial composition in the constituency which was Malay majority and based on a simple mathematical analogy, if Umno can secure 70% of the Malay votes in Titiwangsa, BN can take Titiwangsa.

"If you notice, prior to the segment which was conveniently repeated so as to make me out as a racist in the video, I also said that as far as the Chinese and Indian voters in Titiwangsa are concerned, the BN election machinery is capable enough of engaging them to regain the lost votes.

"It was not that I could care less about the Chinese and Indian voters. It was that my main focus was the split in the Malay votes and how, based on a simple analogy, 70% of the Malay votes could secure a win.

"The speech was taken out of context and had you heard the entire speech during that closed-door discussion, you would have arrived at a very much different conclusion. You will see that I am not a racist as I was made out to be," added Johari.

Speaking on the 1Malaysia policy, he said that 1Malaysia is not just a concept or an ideal but "something that I practise in my everyday life”.

"You see, I am the managing director and a major shareholder of a public-listed company. The chief executive officer of the company is an Indian. The director of sales is a Chinese, so is the head of finance. The head of production is an Indian, and the various heads of department are a mix of Malaysians born and bred in this country. I recognise and reward talents and performance when I see it. I live in 1Malaysia," he said.

He said the BN service centre in Titiwangsa, opened two weeks ago, welcomed all Malaysians, regardless of race, creed or political affiliation.

"Despite losing the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat, I felt that it was necessary to continually provide services to the people especially since the Opposition till today, has no such equivalent centre in the constituency.

"Again, I apologise and hope that you will understand that it was never my intention to discriminate anybody based on race or beliefs," he said.

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