GEORGE TOWN: Sept 2, 2008 By LOOI SUE-CHERN
Leaders of various political parties here said that the apology by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should have come from Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail himself.
On Tuesday, Najib issued a public apology over a racist remark made by Ahmad during the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election last month.
State Gerakan Youth committee member Dr Thor Teong Gee said he failed to understand why Najib had to make the apology.
"The present leadership is 'inconsistent'. The Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) said Ahmad did not mean what he said. Now you have his deputy apologising for Ahmad.
"All along what everyone wanted was just for Ahmad to come forward himself to apologise sincerely, admit to his mistake and ensure it would not happen again.
"We are even ready to give him the benefit of the doubt and let him explain himself if he did not mean what he had said," Dr Thor said.
Ahmad had allegedly called the Chinese pendatang (immigrants) and was also reported to have said that “as the Chinese were only immigrants it was impossible to achieve equal rights amongst races” during a ceramah in Permatang Pauh on Aug 25.
He had allegedly uttered the remarks in Najib's presence.
Dr Thor said as it was a very sensitive issue, Ahmad should also be subjected to the law under the Sedition Act.
"Barisan Nasional should take action against Ahmad if Umno does not," he said.
Penang MCA deputy chairman Lau Chiek Tuan said the apology was unacceptable and Ahmad should not use Najib as a "shield".
"How can Najib apologise when he did not say such things? He should not have to.
"But even if Ahmad apologises, it is still insufficient. The Umno leadership must take disciplinary action against him," Lau said, adding that police and legal action should also be taken.
Tanjung DAP division youth secretary Ng Wei Aik, who is also Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's political secretary, felt that Ahmad should not be let off the hook.
"If the Deputy Prime Minister can apologise, why can't Ahmad? He should not have others apologising for him. He must face the people and ask for forgiveness himself," he said, adding that he believed Najib's apology was intended to appease MCA and Gerakan.
Ng also said if Umno wanted to appease the people, Ahmad must face the music.
Numerous attempts to reach Ahmad failed, as calls were directed to his voicemail.