(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The Suqiu-UMNO Youth joint statement yesterday that in view of "the prevailing ethnic tension", agreed that seven of its 83-point election appeals be "put aside", is a victory for communal political blackmail and a sad day for healthy democratic development in a new Malaysia.
It is particularly sad that despite two recent statements by Suqiu Committee to reiterate that it had respected and never challenged Article 153 of the Malaysian Constitution on the special positions of the Malays and natives of any of the states of Sabah and Sarawak, the Suqiu Committee had been forced to compromise its position on seven of the election appeals.
MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who had called on Suqui to "drop" the "sensitive" appeals, had said that only 2% of the appeals are questionable - but it would now appear that it is close to 10 per cent of the Suqiu Appeals which are regarded as objectionable.
There was a campaign to escalate ethnic tensions over the Suqiu Appeals, but this is not the work either of the Suqiu Committee, the over 2,000 organisations which endorsed the Suqiu Appeals or Malaysians who supported the Suqiu Appeals - as all they wanted was to exercise their democratic right to express their aspirations for a new Malaysia where there is genuine national unity, justice, freedom and good governance and there was no attempt by anyone of them to create social unrest and ethnic tensions.
Those who tried to escalate ethnic tensions had clearly acted under official blessings, making not only provocative statements but also actions designed to polarise the country communally - utterly reckless of the harm they were doing to the economy and image of the country. However, they had not been very successful, for even the Malays have seen through their ulterior political agenda.
I had said that the Suqiu-UMNO Youth joint statement is a sad day for healthy democratic development in Malaysia for without challenging the constitutionally-entrenched sensitive issues, there should be room for Malaysians to raise and discuss important and fundamental questions affecting nation building in a plural society in the best interests of the country in an open, civil and democratic environment, without any attempt by anyone to threaten an ethnic confrontation or escalation of ethnic tensions.
What exactly is the agreement reached between Suqiu Committee and UMNO Youth?
The Joint Statement in English used the term "put aside" the seven points regarded by UMNO Youth as having "touched on the special position and rights of Bumiputeras", the Bahasa Malaysia version used the term "diketepikan" while the Chinese version used the term "kerk zhie".
The Chairman of Suqiu Committee, Quek Suan Hiang, has issued a statement criticising the Bahasa Malaysia print media for distorting the joint statement in using terms like "gugur" and "tarik balik".
However, it is not just the Bahasa Malaysia media which gave front-page headlines like "Suqiu gugur 7 tuntutan - empat pertemuan tertutup selama 24 jam tamatkan kontroversi" (Utusan Malaysia) and "Suqiu gugur 7 tuntutan - berkait hak, keistimewaan orang Melayu", this is also the language used by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as well as MCA and Gerakan leaders in their comments on the Suqiu-UMNO Youth joint statement.
Utusan Malaysia quoted Abdullah as praising Suqius decision - ("tindakan Suqiu menarik balik tuntutan yang mempertikaikan hak dan keistimewaan orang Melayu") - as a victory for Malaysians.
MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lim Ah Lek said Suqiu made the right decision to "drop the controversial points" (NST) while Gerakan deputy president Datuk Kerk Choo Ting said "it is a good thing that the committee withdrew some of the sensitive demands" (NST).
Quek has denied that the Suqiu Committee has agreed to "drop", "withdraw" or "retract" the seven points referred in the joint statement.
In view of the confusion which has been created, the Suqiu Committee and UMNO Youth should clarify and rectify the general impression given to the government and the people that Suqiu Committee had withdrawn seven of its 83-point election appeals, and in particular whether "put aside", "diketepikan" and "kerk zhie" whether separately or collectively tantamount to "drop", "withdraw" and "retract".
Furthermore, the question has also to be addressed as to whether the
Suqiu Appeals, endorsed by over 2,000 organisations, could be varied
in any manner by the Suqiu Committee without the consent or reference
back to these over 2,000 organisations?