Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 11th September 2008: 

Ahmad Ismail’s 3-year Umno suspension – “water off a duck’s back” as evident from his immediate defiant response to go on a nationwide tour of Umno divisions to justify his refusal to apologise for his provocative, inflammatory and racist “penumpang” statement

The Umno Supreme Council’s three-year suspension of Umno Bukit Bendera Umno division chairman Datuk Ahmad Ismail of his Umno membership for his provocative, inflammatory and racist reference of the Malaysian Chinese as “penumpang” is too little, too late and too ineffective.

For Ahmad, the Umno Supreme Council decision is just like “water off a duck’s back”.

All these three attributes of the Umno Supreme Council decision being “too little, too late, too ineffective” were instantly evident from the immediate press conference held by Ahmad after the Umno Supreme Council decision yesterday, viz:

• Firstly, Ahmad remained defiant and unremorseful for his provocative, inflammatory and racist statement maintaining that he would not apologise although he accepted the Umno Supreme Council’s decision on him;

• Secondly, Ahmad declared that his “suspension” would not stop him from being active in the party, albeit unofficially, as he cannot hold posts defined in the party constitution, adding: "If my division is smart enough and creates a new post, such as division advisor, I can still be advisor."

• Thirdly, he announced immediate plan to tour the country and explain to Umno divisions about the matter, and declared: "I promise one thing - I will make a comeback to Umno."

• Fourthly, Ahmad’s defiance and total lack of remorse is not just individual bravado but clearly had powerful UMNO backing as indicated by the fact that he held his immediate press conference at the Umno headquarters at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur which was attended by the Umno Secretary-General Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor.

• Fifthly, Tengku Adnan’s presence at Ahmad’s press conference after being suspended as Umno for three years is most extraordinary and telling, for it could only mean that Ahmad has official Umno support or blessing for his interpretation that despite his three-year suspension, he could be appointed as “advisor” for Umno divisions with full liberty to go on a nation-wide tour to meet Umno divisions to justify his refusal to apologise for his provocative, inflammatory and racist reference of Malaysian Chinese as “penumpang”and do not deserve equal rights and to drum up UMNO support for his stand.

• Sixthly, the conspicuous failure of the Umno Supreme Council to take disciplinary action against the 13 Penang Umno division leaders who had supported and egged on Ahmad in his inflammatory, provocative and racist rants and acts in the past two weeks.

UMNO Youth leader Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said Barisan Nasional component parties should take appropriate action against their respective members if they go against party lines and raise sensitive issues.

He said the Umno decision to suspend Ahmad should also mean Barisan component parties show consistency by taking action against their own members when they stoked ill-feelings among the people.
This is the Star report:

Hishammuddin referred to an earlier incident involving Gerakan, where its Youth vice-chief S. Paranjothy created unpleasantness last year when he had reportedly said on the Internet that the Indian community were treated like fourth-class citizens.
“Hishammuddin said he called for Umno to break off ties with Gerakan due to the statement at the time.
“He added that acting Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had asked him to not push for action to be taken against Paranjothy because of the impending general election in March.

“Now when the same situation has happened (in Ahmad’s case), the concerned party should see Umno’s decision as a sign that when we criticise someone, what comes around will come around,” he told reporters after an Umno supreme council meeting.

Hishammuddin should state whether he would agree that disciplinary action should first be taken against him for his various keris-wielding episodes at Umno Youth Generla Assemblies, in utter disregard of the sensitivities of Malaysia’s plural society and which UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders have admitted was a major factor for the thrashing Barisan Nasional suffered in the March 8 “political tsunami”?

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