Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I’m not losing control :PM
BN in turmoil over racial issues but Abdullah insists it is not falling apart


Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional Chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday denied the notion that the ruling Coalition is falling apart and disintegrating as the BN held a meeting to try end a worsening racial row. “No, you are interpreting it wrongly. We will never allow (the BN to fall apart or disintegrate). “We are like a football team ... very aggressive but we play the same game. We are aiming at one goal - at the opponent - for us to win,” he told reporters after chairing the BN Supreme Council meeting at the Menara Datuk Onn here yesterday. To a question whether he was losing control of the Coalition, he said this was not the case. Issues in the BN, especially those concerning the Umno Bukit Bendera Division Chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, would be settled soon, he stressed. The dispute, which came to a head on Monday, has exposed fresh cracks within the multi-ethnic BN Coalition that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957, starting first with the Alliance Coalition. The BN Coalition which suffered a debacle in March general election, faced an acid test in handling the racia1 dispute that analysts said could ultimately make or break the bloc. “This is his first test-case after the March 8 elections when voters wanted (non-Malay) Barisan Parties to be more assertive,” said a political aide to a Government Minister. The issue surfaced after Ahmad referred to ethnic Chinese minorities as “immigrants” in Malaysia who do not deserve equal rights. That angered Chinese political parties within and outside BN, especially MCA and Gerakan. Chinese, along with ethnic Indians, regard themselves as citizens who should be given similar rights as the majority ethnic Malays. Ahmad on Monday even asked Chinese based Gerakan Party to leave the Coalition but Abdullah has lashed out at him, saying he was not in a position to make that call. In a sharp rebuke, Gerakan and another Barisan party announced that they would cut off any ties with Umno in Penang, Abdullah’s home base. Abdullah however said he was happy to note that leaders of BN Component Parties who attended yesterday’s meeting had stressed that they must he together in the BN to face whatever threats, obstacles and challenges. “We must face it together and work together to ensure the success of BN plans and programs,” he said. He said it is important for the people’s aspirations and wishes to reach the BN, and in this respect, there must an avenue for them to interact and communicate their views. Abdullah also underlined several steps to reform the BN, including the deployment of its information machinery to disseminate information on Party activities and Government policies. He said the activities should be implemented together and not be done in isolation by Component Parties. “We must ensure the participation of other Component Parties in any BN activities,” he said. Abdullah said the BN meeting should not only be held at the national level but also at all levels. “We should also create a research body, comprising representatives of BN Component Parties. We can no longer task this specifically to one party or hope that it will be done by anyone party on behalf of the others,” he said. Abdullah said information bodies within the BN should comprise representative of all BN component parties for a better coordination. This was also to show that the BN component parties understood one another and committed towards the BN’s cause, he said. Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang meanwhile said Abdullah must slap down these extremist and irresponsible politicians and not allow them to rear their ugly heads. The turmoil came as Pakatan Rakyat Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim moved to entice BN lawmakers to defect in his campaign to unseat the Government by his self- imposed Sept 16 deadline. In an apparent bid to pre-empt Anwar, BN took about 50 of its MPs to Taiwan for a week-long study tour. Anwar’s attempt to overturn a political order that has persisted since independence from Britain in 1957 has sharply raised Malaysia’s political risks and rattled foreign investors. - Bernama, Reuter.

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