Estrada slams Malaysian envoy’s wife over anti-Rizal, Ibrahim tweet

Dato’ Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad and Datin Seri Zainab

(Inquirer) – MANILA, Philippines—Former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada on Monday chided a Malaysian diplomat’s wife over her message on microblogging site Twitter calling Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal an “infidel Malay.”

Former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada

Estrada said that Dato Zainab, wife of Malaysian ambassador to Manila Dr. Ibrahim Saad, insulted Rizal and sowed religious hatred as she lashed out at Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, an ally of the ousted Philippine leader.

“It appears that in her desire to insult Anwar, she also effectively insulted our national hero Jose Rizal and the Filipino people who regard him with reverence,” Estrada said in a statement posted on his website.

Dato Zainab, in her tweet originally written in Bahasa on July 16, said: “Anwar Ibrahim is clearly pro-Christian, an admirer of Jose Rizal the infidel Malay! Oh yes, don’t forget…”

Ibrahim, who was jailed on charges of corruption and sodomy but was acquitted in 2004, is visiting Manila to hold a lecture on Friday at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City on the influences of Rizal and Benigno Aquino Jr. on the Southeast Asian leadership.

While in prison, Ibrahim was said to have been inspired by Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, two of the hero’s searing social commentary against the oppressive Spanish colonial rule.

Estrada likened the former Malaysian deputy prime minister to former president Corazon Aquino, calling him  “a fighter for real democracy.”

“Let us do what we can do to join him in this cause of bringing genuine democracy to the Malaysian people,” he said.

At the same time, Estrada reminded Dato Zainab to be respectful of other cultures and religions.

“We must remember that regardless of religion, we are all Asian brothers. Our attitude must be towards strengthening our Malay ties and building our Asian community instead of using religious diversities to sow hatred among nations or ostracize political adversaries,” Estrada said.