PETALING JAYA – Umno appears to be so desperate for support from the Malay community that it is attacking the heritage of its political rivals, says DAP vice-chairman Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji.
The Mentakab assemblyman was referring to Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Razak saying in his keynote speech at the Umno general assembly today that Umno had “accepted” everyone, including Malabari Muslims from Kerala, India, as “Malays”.
The prime minister said it was proof that Umno was not trapped in a narrow racial mindset, and that the party also never told non-Malays to return to their place of origin.
The speech was seen as an attack on Mahathir, who is now the Pakatan Harapan chairman.
Najib had in turn accused his predecessor of being trapped in a “colonial mentality” and insulting people of Bugis origin.
“It is very childish for Umno leaders to attack someone because of their ethnic background,” Tengku Zulpuri told FMT, adding that it was another example of how Umno was trying to gain support from Malays using the race card.
Meanwhile, PKR’s Saifuddin Abdullah and Amanah communications director Khalid Samad said Najib was diverting attention from other issues, such as 1MDB, by launching attacks on the PPBM chairman.
“Najib has to resort to this kind of poor rebuttals and is now trying to get ‘sympathy’ from Bugis groups,” Saifuddin said in a text message.
Khalid said it was not relevant for Najib to have brought up the issue of “Malabaris” when he should have instead given a response to the 1MDB scandal.
“Or he should be talking about policies and make a comparison between the achievements during his era and Mahathir’s,” he said.
PPBM information chief Kamaruddin Mohd Noor said as a prime minister, Najib should have countered Mahathir’s criticism with intellectual arguments instead of resorting to name calling.
“He claimed he is a Bugis warrior but many times he avoided an open debate with Tun,” Kamaruddin told FMT, referring to the “Nothing to Hide” forums.
Kamaruddin said the voters will not be influenced by a leader’s ethnicity when choosing their representative.
“They judge a leader’s performance and the way the leader resolves current issues.”
The “Nothing to Hide” forum was held twice over the last two years. It was meant to see Mahathir and Najib address the 1MDB scandal and other issues affecting the country.
However, Najib did not show up both times the forums were held. During the last Nothing to Hide forum in Shah Alam on Aug 13, a commotion broke out when an audience member threw a flare which landed near Mahathir who was seated on the stage.