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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Barisan parties’ silence over Umno assembly rhetoric will cost them, says Zaid

Former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim says leaders of Barisan parties have become filled with such fear that they dare not protest racially charged speeches at the Umno general assembly. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, November 30, 2014.Former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim says leaders of Barisan parties have become filled with such fear that they dare not protest racially charged speeches at the Umno general assembly. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, November 30, 2014.
The failure of Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to condemn racially charged speeches by delegates at the recent Umno general assembly will cost them votes from their respective communities, former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said.
The ex-Umno man said in his latest blog posting that leaders of the component parties had become "filled with such fear" that they did not dare muster even a mild protest against the speeches.
He accused the parties' leaders of being more concerned about their positions in the Cabinet and their parties.
"But obviously not – they only have their positions as ministers and party leaders to cling to," he wrote in his blog.
Zaid, who also joined PKR for a stint after leaving Umno, said this year's assembly was "one of the worst in Umno's history".
"I would call the statements made by some of Umno's top leaders 'sick', and would rate them among the worst ever made by political leaders anywhere. They humiliate our own people with impunity...," he wrote.
But he added that such "venom" was "always present in large quantities" at the annual assembly of the BN's lynchpin party.
What was more distressing, Zaid said, was the lack of outcry from the BN component parties which represented the other races in the ruling coalition.
"What is glaring and worrying, however, is how Umno’s partners in the Barisan Nasional have shown a total lack of concern about Umno leaders and their speeches," he said.
"If the other component parties won’t react to this blatant provocation and humiliation, then it means we have descended into fascism. In a fascist environment, there is overriding fear of those in power. The fear is so consuming that it makes you incapable of reacting as a free human being. It makes you numb."
Urging the component parties to have more courage, Zaid said they should learn from the widow who was suing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and several others for damages following her family's exile from Malaysia for five years "because her late husband had said something that had angered the powers that be".
Zaid did not name the woman in his blog, but he was likely referring to A. Santamil Selvi, the widow of the late private detective P. Balasubramaniam, who was a witness in the murder trial of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.
Better known as P.I. Bala, he had made two statutory declarations (SD) within days of each other in July 2008, the first implicating Najib in Altantuya's murder in 2006, and the second which purportedly cleared the then deputy prime minister of involvement in the case.
He hurriedly left Malaysia after he signed the second SD and was in exile with his family in India for five years. He died in March last year from a heart attack just weeks after returning from India.
Najib, Rosmah and others named in Santamil's suit are now seeking to strike out the legal action on the grounds that the widow lacked the capacity to file the action as she has yet to obtain a letter of administration of her late husband's estate.
"You would have seen a woeful amount of cowardice if you followed the Umno general assembly. If you follow the life of the kindergarten teacher, you will find courage.
"We need a lot more of it if this country is going somewhere," Zaid said in comments directed at the BN component party leaders.
MCA vice-president Senator Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, however, did protest the statement by a Penang Umno delegate who said that Chinese in Penang had gained wealth and power through illegal means, such as gambling, prostitution and entertainment outlets.
Chew said the statement by Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said was inflammatory, offensive to the Chinese community as a whole, and urged Umno to act against him.
Zaid in his blog also named Mohd Zaidi as one of those whose who made incendiary statements at the Umno assembly.
He also ticked of Najib for using footage of the May 13, 1969, race riots in Kuala Lumpur during his speech at the assembly, where the prime minister had also said that Umno was the sole guarantor of peace in the country and that Malays had sacrificed more than anyone else to achieve peace.
"I just want to remind him that if he continues this way he will be remembered as ‘father of hate’ while his late father is deservedly known as 'father of development',” said Zaid.

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