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Friday, November 9, 2007

'Don't question Malay rights'

Sabah Daily Express (8/11/2007): Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said basic matters relating to the sanctity of religion, beliefs and practices, Malay interests and the social contract between the communities should no longer be raised.

The Prime Minister said basic issues that were agreed upon at the time the Federal Constitution was drafted were non-negotiable.

"Umno does not engage in duplicity. We don't change our tune to suit the occasion or the audience. We're ready to seek intelligent resolutions and win-win outcomes when dealing with sensitive issues relating to race and religion," said Abdullah, who is also Umno President, when addressing the Umno General Assembly, here, Wednesday.

He said that for such issues to be addressed effectively, it was more appropriate to have these discussions behind closed doors.

"Sensitive issues must be handled objectively, rationally and maturely. Umno and its colleagues in the Barisan Nasional must never be ensnared by religious and racial issues raised by the opposition parties.

"We're the party that controls the government, we administer executive power. We should never allow ourselves to sink to their level," he said.

Abdullah said other communities in the country must appreciate the sensitivities of the Malays.

"We've been independent for 50 years. Now, those who are born in Malaysia are Malaysian citizens. They were born and have grown up knowing only Malaysia as their homeland. The time for championing parochial interests is over," he said.

Abdullah said that during the 2006 Umno general assembly where the media were allowed to provide live coverage of the proceedings, a small number of speakers had raised issues that had perhaps touched on communal sensitivities but the majority chose to tackle them from a national perspective.

"I believe that similar extremist sentiments are voiced by members of political parties that represent other communities. However, in the spirit of building a unified nation, the consensus of moderation and mutual respect outweighs extremist tendencies," he said.

Abdullah also explained that the act of unsheathing and kissing the Malay keris was part of the cultural heritage of the Malay people.

He said the keris was not a weapon to attack friends.

"But it's meaning has been twisted to spread fear among non-Malays, and the image of Umno and Malaysia has been smeared overseas," he said.

Abdullah gave the assurance that Umno would never breach the spirit of the understanding that had been agreed with the other communities at the time of independence.

He stressed that the harmony between the various communities in the country was not an option but a necessity.

"We have no other choice. Fifty years ago, our independence movement was successful because of the wisdom of Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues who introduced the concept of power sharing," he said.

The Prime Minister also said that maintaining security was a responsibility of the Government, one that could be carried out more effectively with the support from the public.

"The Malaysian society is currently facing a number of fears, among them, crime as well as inter-religious and communal issues," he said.

He said the media played an important role in raising public awareness on how members of society could help maintain security. - Bernama


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