Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 6th September 2008: 

Revolt by Ahmad Ismail and 13 Penang UMNO divisions latest and probably most critical challenge to Abdullah’s power-transition plan

The revolt by UMNO Bukit Bendera chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail and 13 Penang Umno divisions backing Ahmad’s stance of no apology for his offensive, insensitive and racist reference to the Chinese as “orang tumpang” is the latest and probably the most critical challenge to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s power transition plan.

It is even more serious than the defection of support of the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his quitting Umno as it is a direct challenge to the political and moral authority of Abdullah as UMNO President and Prime Minister shaking the very basis of his power base in Umno.

If the Penang Umno example is emulated by Umno divisions in other states, then Abdullah’s days as Prime Minister and Umno President are numbered, forcing him into an earlier departure than the June 2010 timetable he had set for himself under his power-transition plan to hand over power to his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The question now is whether the Ahmad Ismail virus will spread to other Umno divisions in other states to bring an early end to the Abdullah premiership.

Will the leadership of UMNO as well as the other Barisan Nasional component parties, particularly MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP take a strong and uncompromising stand to denounce Ahmad’s offensive, insensitive and racist reference of the Malaysian Chinese as “orang tumpang”?

Ahmad had compounded his offence during the Permatang Pauh by-election in flying against the weight of evidence that he had been guilty of making the insensitive and racist reference to the Chinese as “orang tumpang” as well as engineering a revolt of Penang Umno leaders against the No. 1 and No. 2 of UMNO and the other Barisan Nasional leaders.

The weight of evidence that Ahmad had been guilty of making the offensive, insensitive and racist remarks are:

1. The account by the Sin Chew reporter, Tan Hoo Cheng who authored the original report and who had written an account of Ahmad’s speech during the Permatang Pauh by-election on 23rd August 2008
Anyone who had read Tan’s account which appeared in the Sin Chew today would be impressed by its ring of truth, authencity and bona fides unlike Ahmad’s self-serving 16-page statement.

2. Further direct testimony corroborating Tan’s account by two other reporters, Kelvin Li of Guang Ming and Chen Minghao of Nanyang who covered the same function, and whose accounts were reported in the Sin Chew today.

3. Apology by Najib on behalf of Ahmad. It is completely unthinkable that the Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Umno President would have been prepared to suffer the humiliation of making a public apology on behalf of Ahmad without being sure that Ahmad had uttered the offending term. After all, Najib should have first-hand information as Ahmad had made the offending speech in his presence.

4. The long lapse of 11 days before the alleged “denial” by Ahmad – as the normal action of anyone who had been wrongly maligned or subject of a false accusation would be to make an instant response.

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