Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia is the one to be blamed for “manipulating” a remark by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who had apparently alluded to the May 13, 1969 racial riots, for which the deputy prime minister received much criticism, said the DAP.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang (pic) said the Malay daily was the one which reported Muhyiddin’s warning of yet another racial riot following worsening racial and religious relations in the country.
“If Muhyiddin’s Pagoh speech had been ‘manipulated’, then the culprit is none other than Utusan Malaysia, the mouthpiece of Umno,” he posted in his blog today.
“This is because it was Utusan Malaysia which reported Muhyiddin’s warning of another May 13 riot in the context of worsening ethnic relations allegedly because Malays and Islam were under siege.
Lim said it was very clear from the report, which “nobody doubts” as the newspaper is owned by Umno, that Muhyiddin had singled out non-Malays when he alluded to the May 13 riot, a threat which has been repeated a few times since the 13th General Election by other “irresponsible extremist groups and individuals”.
Last week, Muhyiddin had warned that Malaysia could see another “bloody incident” if no efforts were made to preserve inter-ethnic harmony.
“That is why all sorts of assumptions are raised when ethnic ties become strained and unhealthy. This could lead to that incident, and I do not want to mention the date (May 13, 1969),” Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia had quoted Muhyiddin as saying, adding the date of the 1969 racial riots in parenthesis in its report.
Muhyiddin had said that he had been receiving text messages from people asking him about the plight of the Malays, and why Islam was being insulted.
The remark drew fire from opposition politicians, with Penang deputy chief minister II Professor P Ramasamy challenging the DPM to “bring it” and lodging a report against the deputy prime minister.
Ramasamy, however, has denied challenging Muhyiddin to re-enact the May 13 riots, saying he was “upset, sick and tired” that the DPM had harped on the May 13 issue and blamed non-Malays for the country’s problems.
Yesterday, Muhyiddin broke his silence over the issue, claiming that he had been “misunderstood” and his words “manipulated”.
“There are certain people in Malaysia who do not understand what I say… (they) manipulate and in fact turn whatever I say into a political statement.
“The reminder to preserve peace and harmony is a must. It is not only confined to the Malays but the whole community. The Muslims and non-Muslims have a common responsibility,” Bernama quoted him as saying.
Lim said although he welcomed Muhyiddin’s clarification that he had not made threats of May 13 to non-Malays, it should be taken with a “big pinch of salt”.
“I welcome Muhyiddin’s clarification although it must be taken with a big pinch of salt but in the national interest, I will give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that henceforth nobody will issue May 13 threats to any particular community.
“I have many questions to ask Muhyiddin, including why he had not immediately issued such a clarification instead of allowing six days to elapse before doing so – which would have ended the unfortunate furore over his May 13 remark,” the Gelang Patah MP said.
He said Malaysians should learn from this episode to be careful when making public statements and avoid sensitive and provocative expressions which could threaten peace and harmony.
“Isn’t it more useful, productive and patriotic for all Malaysians to unite regardless of race, religion or region to make Malaysia a great and successful country instead of undermining the country’s great potentials in all fields of human endeavour by incessantly stoking the fires of ethnic and religious hatred and conflict?” he asked.