The race against race


Mohsin Abdullah,

SO, TAN SRI Joseph Kurup did not use the word “race” when campaigning for BN in Kajang a few days ago as reported by Malaysiakini.

According to Malaysiakini, the minister in the PM’s Department issued a one-paragraph press release to say “I categorically deny using the word ‘race’ in my speech at the Sayang Komuniti programme at Sungai Chua, Kajang”.

The news portal said it had attributed this quote to Kurup a day earlier: “Vote for BN’s candidate for peace and unity of the country. Vote for BN’s candidate that is one from your own race”.

After Kurup’s denial, Malaysiakini went through the speech (which was in Bahasa Malaysia) again and upon checking, the news portal found that the quote was subjected to translation error.

The speech in BM read: Undilah calon BN untuk kesejahteraan rakyat dan perpaduan negara. Undilah calon BN yang merupakan orang kamu sendiri.

So, the key words are ‘Orang kamu sendiri’. Could it be that what Kurup meant was the ‘BN candidate is one of you rakyat’? Sort of ‘the people’s candidate’?

But DAP’s Dr Ong Kian Ming read it differently.

This is what he has to ask and say :

+ “Could this mean that the minister was asking the voters in Sungai Chua to vote for Chew Mei Fun because she is from Kajang? This is not possible since Chew was born in Penang and was previously Petaling Jaya MP”.

+ “Could this mean the minister was asking the voters to vote for Chew because she is a Hakka, like majority of the voters in Sungai Chua? This is also not possible since Chew is Hainanese, not Hakka’.

+ “The only possible explanation left is that the minister was asking the Chinese voters in Sungai Chua to vote for Chew because she is a Chinese i.e one of their own!”.
Well, …

Anyway, the irony is (if ‘irony’ is the right word to use), Kurup is the same minister who a few weeks ago suggested the “race column” in forms be abolished.

This was what he said then: “After 50 years since the formation of Malaysia, sadly we are still separated by racial and religious identity. Maybe it is time to eliminate the need to name our race in any form in this country”.

But for merely making that suggestion, Kurup came under fire from the so-called Malay rights groups who said the move would only “benefit non-bumiputeras”. And that is to put it mildly as to what they had said.

Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia joined in to say “the suggestion to remove race from official forms will lead to Malays giving up more of their rights and privileges in this country”.