Fiery words back to haunt Umno















By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

Among the many Barisan Nasional (BN) banners and billboards on Jalan Cerong Lanjut in Kampung Tiong here, the Pas banner stands out.

The banner, which displays the faces of Umno Youth hopeful and son of Malaysia’s ex-premier, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, as well as the controversial Umno Penang division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail, is a direct attack against the senior BN party.

The words in Mandarin below their images say it all: “Umno is becoming more extreme.”

The provocative slogan is a reminder to the Chinese of certain attitudes towards the minority community adopted by key Umno members since the March 8 general elections last year.

The two most notable incidents were the one in Penang, where Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail called Malaysian-Chinese “squatters”, resulting in the arrest of a reporter from a Chinese daily under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

Second, Mukhriz’s suggestion to do away with vernacular schools and replacing them with a single education system.

While the predominantly Malay electorate remain equally split between the BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) front, Pas is stepping up its campaign to woo the Chinese community, which accounts for around 11 per cent of voters.

Polling day for the Kuala Terengganu by-election is only a week away.

There have been strong signals that the Chinese are warming to the Islamist party over the past week.

The Chinese have been turning up in increasing numbers at public ceramahs organised by the PR, including the one last night in an open air car park in Chinatown.