Media Conference Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Monday, 1st December 2008: 

Muhyiddin’s threat against Zaid Ibrahim proof that exclusive, intolerant and petty-mindedness displacing inclusive thinking and greater openness and tolerance in the mindset of Umno leaders – major setback for Bangsa Malaysia concept 

I am surprised by the outburst of the Umno vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in Kota Kinabalu yesterday, excoriating former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, for attending an opposition function, accusing Zaid of “disloyalty to Umno” and demanding an explanation from Zaid or to face disciplinary reprisals!

I am very disappointed because Muhyiddin is the Minister for International Trade and Industry as well as the favourite in the contest for Umno Deputy President and therefore Deputy Prime Minister-designate next March – and should be an example of inclusive thinking and greater openness and tolerance instead of being very exclusive, intolerant and petty-minded in a country we want to market to the world as Instant Asia!

It is a major setback for the Bangsa Malaysia concept as it illustrates the sad fact that exclusive, intolerant and petty-mindedness have displaced inclusive thinking and greater openness and tolerance in the mind-set of Umno leaders 51 years after Merdeka!

Is “loyalty to Umno” so brittle and fragile that it must be invoked against any Umno member for attending an opposition function?

I attended the official opening of the new Umno Building at Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur in the eighties. Was my “loyalty to DAP” ever in doubt for attending an Umno function?

Why so childish, petty and narrow-minded when Malaysian leaders should set an example to the people and the world of our open-mindedness and tolerance of diverse views coming from a nation where pluralism and diversity are our most outstanding characteristic and greatest national asset?

Fortunately, this question of “loyalty to Umno” was not raised when the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz accepted my invitation to a DAP seminar on “Agenda for First-World Parliament” just before the opening of the 11th Parliament in May 2004.

Why didn’t “loyalty to Umno” become an issue when Nazri attended the DAP function in 2004 but it has become a big issue four years later over Zaid’s attending an Opposition function?

Is this a reflection on Zaid, Muhyiddin or UMNO? Is this an indication that Umno has lost the confidence to rule as compared to four years ago and that a besieged mentality has taken possession of many Umno leaders?

If Muhyiddin is so swift in issuing an ultimatum to Zaid to question his “loyalty to Umno” for attending an opposition function, will he be equally swift in demanding action to be taken against Umno Seberang Jaya Assemblyman in Penang, Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, who was the Barisan Nasional standard-bearer in the Permatang Pauh by-eleciton, for his statement in the New Sunday Times yesterday that he was “now at a crossroads between staying in Umno or joining the Pakatan Rakyat state government” because of “blatant power abuses” by Umno Permatang Pauh division leadership?

I was struck by a statement by Umno Youth Leader and Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein when castigating MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek and MCA Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun for saying that the concept of “ketuanan Melayu” or Malay supremacy was no longer relevant. (New Sunday Times 30.11.08)

Apart from accusing Chua and Chew for trying to be “heroes” in “jostling to position themselves politically”, and saying that “the people are tired of the religious, racial and political issues” after going through “the toughest general election eight months ago”, Hishammuddin warned that leaders “still unaware of the changes they have to make and to look at things in a new context … will be left behind when BN transforms itself in March”!

What is this “BN transformation in March” that the new MCA top national leadership and the other BN component parties are completely ignorant about?

Is it going to be a “BN transformation in March” that is to be solely and exclusively orchestrated by Umno, with the leaders of the other BN component parties with the prerogative only to raise their hands to express compliance?

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor