Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rais takes a swipe at Lian Hoe

New Straits Times Nov 17th 2008

by R.S. Kamini

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has called Gerakan Wanita chief Datuk Tan Lian Hoe a loud-mouth.

Rais, who is also foreign minister, yesterday accused Tan of being celupar (loud-mouthed) over her statement that the Malays were also immigrants from Nusantara.

Tan had made a speech at Wanita Gerakan's national delegates' conference on Oct 10, on the Malays and other races.

He said Tan should not forget that she had won her parliamentary seat in Gerik in the general election in March with Malay votes.

Rais, who was delivering his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Perkasa forum on the "Natives' Rights in the Constitution", said the Malays had been the subject of humiliation recently.

"A lot of historical facts have been turned into a political toy, giving way for certain quarters to question and embarrass the Malays and the natives."

He said Umno had suspended Penang's Datuk Ahmad Ismail when he labelled the Chinese as immigrants and squatters, but those who humiliated the Malays were standing tall and laughing.

"Our Youth leader was warned not to kiss the kris, while the usage of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language is threatened with Penang's new socialist government."

He said Malay rights and privileges, including the powers of the royal institution, should be respected by all leaders.

Rais said the struggle to uphold Malay privileges should be seen in a positive light.

Judging from history, Rais said the Malays were among the first to reside in the peninsula (hence the popular term "Land of the Malays" in history books).

"During the British occupation, the one and only traditional institution that they could not eliminate was the special privileges of the Malays and the royal institution," he said, adding that the term "ketuanan Melayu" (Malay supremacy) referred to the powers of the royal institution.

He said a book entitled British Malaya even quoted Frank Swettenham as saying that "the Malays have their own outright position as native inheritors of their land".

(Swettenham was the resident-general of the Federated Malay States, the most senior official in the colonial administration then.)

Rais said the Constitution also clearly stated that it shall be the responsibility of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to safeguard the special position of the Malays.

He added, however, that the Constitution also stated that the rights of other races and minority groups should be protected.

He said the Malay privileges did not exist without boundaries and they should be put to good use.

"The Bumiputeras should exceed the 30 per cent equity stake by working harder and acquiring new skills and knowledge."

Rais also said that Umno as the protector of Malay rights should never project a weak image, but rectify its weaknesses.

"The Malays and Bumiputeras should strengthen their political positions based on their numbers.

"If you are strong enough in political numbers, the majority will prevail," he said.

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