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Hisham – gonna say sorry for UMNO Youth  keris episodes?


Blog Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya
, Tuesday): UMNO Youth chief and Education Minister Datuk Seri  Hishammuddin Hussein has joined the chorus started by his No. 2, Khairy Jamaluddin demanding an apology from DAP for belittling Tunku Abdul Rahman in fighting for Merdeka.

The DAP leadership will respond to Hishammuddin’s salvo.  But let me make two observations.

Firstly, if anybody had been guilty of belittling Tunku, it was none other than the UMNO leaders themselves, which will be fully revealed when history is written of Tunku’s two decades after he stepped down as Prime Minister from 1970 to 1990. 

In 2003, the government nearly forgot about Tunku’s birthday centennial in 2003 if not for my  pointed reminder, leading it to a hurried and last-minute decision to go through the formality of marking the occasion without any serious intention of initiating a series of meaningful commemoration events in honour of Tunku’s memory, contribution and legacy.

I am still waiting for the Cabinet response to my proposals that it should proclaim Tunku’s birthday on February 8 as a Bapa Malaysia Day to be celebrated nationally every year and the creation of a Tunku Prize  as prestigious annual awards comparable to Nobel Prize awards for distinguished achievements in various fields of human endeavour in the 21st century.

May be, with his jolted memory of Tunku’s contribution, greatness and legacy, Hishammuddin can now raise my two proposals in Cabinet and get them  accepted. This will definitely be more useful than engineering “blasts from the past” to score political points and even worse, to try to work up racial temperatures.

I wonder whether it is the fate of Prime Ministers to be   belittled when they step down from office.  The late Tun Hussein Onn told me that the greatest mistake of his life was to select Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as his successor.  I have no doubt that Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is currently nursing the grievance that he is being belittled by the present administration.

My second point. Is Hishammuddin going to apologise for brandishing the Malay keris at the recent UMNO Youth General Assembly?  As Education Minister, he must not set the bad  example of insensitivity or amnesia of the UMNO Youth rally in Kuala Lumpur on 17th October 1987,  with banners blaring  incendiary slogans like : “MAY 13 HAS BEGUN” and “SOAK IT (KRIS) WITH CHINESE BLOOD”.  If Hishammuddin needs to  refresh his memory, just look  up the Government White Paper “Towards Preserving National Security” tabled in Parliament on 23rd March 1986, or just ask his cousin, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was the UMNO Youth leader at that time.

Will Hishammuddin say sorry, not only for his brandishing the Malay keris at the July UMNO Youth General Assembly, but also for the UMNO Youth’s Malay keris threat in 1987?

In the  ensuing Operation Lalang mass arrests under the Internal Security Act, seven DAP MPs were incarcerated at the Kamunting Detention Centre, namely the late P. Patto and  V. David, Karpal Singh, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, Lim Guan Eng, Lau Dak Kee and myself.

In my rebuttal to the 10 allegations of fact in the Order of Detention signed by the Prime Minister and Home Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, on 19th December 1987, I said:

“It is true that in October 1987, Malaysia experienced unprecedented racial tensions, but the roots must be traced to the power struggle between UMNO A and B teams and, to a lesser extent, the public quarrel between UMNO Youth and MCA, especially Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Lee Kim Sai.

“It is not an exaggeration at all to describe the ISA detention of DAP MPs in the following: UMNO A and UMNO B were locked in an intense struggle for power, and the DAP was blamed and made a victim.  Similarly, UMNO Youth and MCA quarreled and the DAP was again made a victim.”(The Real Reason – Operation Lalang ISA Arrests Oct 27, 1987 – published by DAP 1988).



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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