Why is Najib the only one of six Prime Ministers to sanction, condone and defend the totally indefensible rabid racist statement of one of his Ministers?

The rabid racist statement by the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob calling on Malay consumers to boycott Chinese businesses has snowballed from the aberration of one errant Minister to a crisis of an entire errant Cabinet of 35 Ministers because of the extraordinary and outrageous decision by the Cabinet to sanction, condone and defend Ismail’s racist fulminations.

Today is the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s 112th birthday anniversary. I have no doubt that if the Ismail Sabry episode had happened in Tunku’s time as Prime Minister, Ismail would have been made to apologise for his racist fulminations and even been sacked from Tunku’s Cabinet.

This was why in my statement six days ago on 2nd February, I had said:

“If a past Minister had done what Ismail did under the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn, he would have been sacked on the spot immediately after the expression of such racist sentiments, for it would be conclusive proof of his total unsuitability to continue as a Cabinet Minister in a plural society.

“I think such a Minister would have been sacked by Tun Dr. Mahathir during his 22 years of premiership although Mahathir may now look for excuses to come to Ismail’s defence or rescue.”

Mahathir had proven me wrong, for he had publicly expressed his disapproval for Ismail’s racist fulminations, rightly pointing out that the rising cost of living had nothing to do with ethnicity.

But Mahathir had tried to soften his blow of disapproval by saying: “Maybe he didn’t think (about) what he said. If he thinks carefully, he would not say boycott Chinese goods.”

Mahathir said Malay and Indian businesses were also not reducing their prices and not all traders are Chinese, stressing “This is not about Chinese or Malay, this is about oil prices going down, but goods prices are not going down.”

I do not think under Tun Abdullah’s premiership, there would have been place for such a rank racist in the Cabinet.

Why then is Najib the only one of six Prime Ministers to sanction, condone and defend Ismail’s racist fulminations when the other five Prime Ministers before him would never have done such a thing?

Is this because he is the weakest Prime Minister in the nation’s 58 year history?

All the other 34 Ministers have done a great disservice to their Ministerial offices and their own credibility and reputation in lining up behind Ismail to deny the undeniable, defend the indefensible that the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister had crossed the line of what is permissible for a Minister, in making a rabid racist call on a matter which has nothing to do with ethnicity.

Ismail had in fact betrayed his oath of Ministerial office, to serve all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region!

In sanctioning, condoning and defending Ismail’s racist fulminations, all the other 34 Cabinet Ministers, regardless of their political party of origin, have also betrayed their oath of Ministerial office!

The Cabinet on Wednesday (Feb. 11) should revisit the Ismail Sabri case, and it must be made clear to Ismail that he should unconditionally retract and apologise for this baseless racist fulmination, or he should be sacked from the Cabinet if not as a decision of the Prime Minister, then as a decision of the Cabinet by way of a Cabinet resolution!

Malaysia cannot have a Minister who live in the world of “double think”, “double talk” and “double act”!

Now the country is also in danger of having a Cabinet of “double think”, “double talk” and “double act”.

Wednesday is the last opportunity for the Cabinet to prove that the 34 Ministers have pulled back from the precipice and have not joined the rank of Ismail Sabri to “double think”, “double talk” and “double act”

But rest assured, even if there is a Minister or Cabinet of “double think”, “double talk” and “double act”, the overwhelming majority of Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, will not be subdued or cowed into a people of “double think”, “double talk” and “double act” for they will continue to be decent, sensible and moderate human beings who will not allow the rhetoric and politics of hate, intolerance, bigotry and extremism to govern their lives!

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah