Najib tries to soothe hurt Chinese feelings


SHAH ALAM: You are sons of Malaysia and not “pendatang”, said Najib Razak today as he sought to mollify the Malaysian Chinese community after “hurtful remarks” by Umno-endorsed Red Shirt protesters who rallied in a show of support for the Umno leader last month.

Speaking at the Gerakan general assembly here, the prime minister said Malaysian Chinese were Malaysians above all and they should not be worried too much “about one or two individuals” who may say otherwise.

At last month’s Red Shirt rally in central Kuala Lumpur, remarks such as “Cina babi” and “balik Cina” were shouted out by some protesters trying to make a show of Malay strength around the Petaling Street bazaar.

In the wake of the controversy, Najib said today: “Malaysian Chinese have contributed a lot to the development of Malaysia, to the growth of Malaysia…the spectacular growth of Malaysia. You’ve played your part. And that is why you are not ‘pendatang’.

“You are the sons of Malaysia. you were born here, you grew up here and when the time comes, you will be buried here, or your ashes will be scattered somewhere in Malaysia.”

There was no immediate response to the prime minister’s speech.

However, the inflammatory remarks by rally protesters, and similar statements by Umno ministers, drew a strong response from Gerakan leaders at their assembly this weekend.

Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong, saying he felt hurt by those remarks, backing calls by Gerakan Youth and Gerakan Wanita for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition to set up disciplinary measures at the coalition level to take action against component party members.

On Saturday, Gerakan Youth leader Tan Keng Liang said the coalition should take disciplinary measures against “clowns” from component parties who inflamed racial relations.

Tan said action should be taken against those who made controversial remarks causing a public outcry and later attempting to distance themselves by denying their statements or by claiming they were misquoted.

“In the end, those who want to be heroes end up becoming clowns. And BN becomes the victim,” Tan said.

Gerakan Wanita leader Tan Lian Hoe criticised government leaders who gave their backing to protests with racial sentiments, saying that the behaviour of these cabinet members was “childish, unprofessional, emotional and revengeful”, Malaysiakini reported.

She urged the government to take moderate action to put out racial flames being stoked by extremists, while Gerakan Youth called for stiffer penalties, including jail terms, for those who organised street protests. – FMT

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