Umno warn of backlash over Soi Lek’s remarks

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal and Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider

Umno leaders fired back today at MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek for accusing them of using religion to compete with PAS for Malay support, warning him that he risked triggering an adverse reaction from the Malay community.

“Dr Chua needs to stop doing this. He is shifting racial politics into religious politics.

“This is very dangerous. People might start blaming Islam because of what he said… they might blame Islam and say that corruption in the country is rampant because of the religion,” said Umno’s Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, who is also the former Selangor mentri besar.

Dr Chua, the MCA president, appeared to criticise Umno as well as PAS today for using religion to compete for Malay support.

He also blamed this on how the country had been trapped as a “middle income” nation for more than 10 years, claiming that the competition between the two Malay-centric parties had led to some “non-progressive policies”.

Dr Khir told The Malaysian Insider that Dr Chua’s remarks could cause unrest within the country, and disturb the “harmonic balance” created by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

 ”We do not want to start blaming each other, pointing fingers… this leads into religious arguments. This is dangerous,” said Dr Khir.

The Selangor opposition leader said that the MCA president should instead focus on rebuilding an already fragmented MCA.

“Dr Chua should look into the Chinese problems. Why is there no support from the Chinese towards BN? In Selangor, there are virtually no new registered Chinese voters.

“I think Dr Chua is too influenced by western campaigns to discredit Islam as a religion. You will only end up making Malay leaders angry and more enemies,” said Dr Khir.

The Umno man insisted that there was nothing wrong with Umno reaching out to Malay voters with Islam, because Islam was part and parcel of the identity of the Malay party.

He dismissed Dr Chua’s remarks that Umno had become conservative in recent years.

“Umno is a progressive, open party. Under BN, we allow other members to join, to contest. We give rights to other races, and make sure everyone is happy.

“Islam is close to Umno, part of our life. You cannot ask for the religion to be separated from the party. It is a part of what Umno is,” said Dr Khir.

Umno Kota Belud MP Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan argued that Umno was a party that followed the wishes of its grassroots, and it will always be the voice of the Malays.

“Umno has always been the voice of the Malays. It is not about what Umno wants really… we are looking at the Malay heartbeat, sometimes they want Umno to be concerned with more religious issues,” said the Umno man.

Abdul Rahman told The Malaysian Insider that Umno was neither liberal or conservative, and that it only responding to the needs of grassroot supporters.

“Umno is only reacting to the wishes of the grassroots. If the grassroots want Umno to be more liberal, we will be as we have been. But if there is a message that they want us to focus on religious issues, then we will do that too,” he said.

Abdul Rahman warned of the dangers of not protecting Malay interests, stressing that the majority race needed to be appeased to avoid any disruption to the existing stability of the country.