KUALA LUMPUR: Sept 2, 2008
Umno, the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional government, has issued a public apology over a remark made by Bukit Bendera Umno division head Datuk Ahmad Ismail during the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election last month.
"We hope that the non-Malays will not be too disturbed with the statement and we apologise if it has incurred the sensitivities or unhappiness over the statement.
"We apologise, Umno apologises although it is not our statement but it is a statement made by one of our division leaders. It is totally unwarranted and does not reflect the position and the attitude of Umno or the leadership of Umno. We regret it very much," Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also Umno deputy president, said here on Tuesday.
In the run-up to the Permatang Pauh by-election, Ahmad had said at a ceramah that the Chinese community were mere "immigrants" in the country and thus were not entitled to be given equal rights in Malaysia.
Speaking to reporters after launching the Chery Multi Purpose Vehicle here, Najib said the Umno supreme council would also decide at its next meeting on the "appropriate action" to be taken against the division leader.
"The statement is his personal statement and is not the stand of Umno and the Government. We do not regard Malaysian citizens of Chinese, Indian or other descent as 'passengers'.
"They are Malaysian citizens who have full rights and we will definitely safeguard their interests and their dignity and I describe the statement as something that Umno and the Government very much regret," he said. - Bernama