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Utusan must say sorry, says Gerakan man

All BN component parties should jointly force
the Malay daiy to make a public apology
GEORGE TOWN: A Gerakan leader today demanded that Utusan Malaysia make a public apology for labelling Chinese voters in Sarawak as “ungrateful”.

Baljit Singh, who heads the Penang Gerakan’s legal and human rights bureau, also called on all Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to join forces to coerce the Umno-controlled Malay daily to do it.

He accused Utusan Malaysia of being a source of racism by frequently stirring racial and religious sentiments of the people.

“This is not the first time Utusan has resorted to racist brand of articles to undermine the credibility of non-Malays.

“It has happened too often and this must be stopped. The entire BN must demand an open apology from Utusan Malaysia for its latest racial rhetoric,” he told FMT.

He said the massive 8% dip in popular votes for BN in the Sarawak polls was across the board, and not just confined to the Chinese community.

He questioned why Utusan did not brand Malays in Penang, Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Kelantan as “ungrateful” for voting against BN in the last general election.

In an editorial published on Sunday, the Malay-language daily took Chinese voters to task for turning their backs on BN despite the development brought to the state.

Baljit praised MIC publicity and communication chief S Vell Paari for slamming the newspaper for such an article.

“But where are the other BN equal partners? What is their stand on Utusan racism?” he asked.

He said the country would never attain the status of a developed nation if racism continued to rear its ugly head.

Main reason

Baljit added that racism was among the main reasons for the BN massive loss of popular votes in last weekend’s Sarawak polls.

“Al-Kitab and the Allah issues, for instance, have influenced many voters,” said Baljit, a lawyer by profession.

He said that the relevant religious authorities could have resolved the contentious issues amicably without political interference.

However, he said the issues were politicised when political parties intervened.

In Saturday’s Sarawak election, the BN clinched 55 seats while Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat alliance won 15. An independent candidate took one seat.

Previously, BN held 63 seats and the opposition eight.

Baljit applauded BN for retaining the state government with a two-thirds majority, while also congratulating Pakatan for making massive inroads into the Borneo state.

BN popular votes, however, dipped from 63% in 2006 to 55%, which critics described as a massive blow.

Sarawak, like Sabah, is being considered as a traditional BN electoral fixed deposit.

Baljit called on Umno to stop twirling, twisting and turning everything into racial issues because “racist spins could no longer work to fish Malay-Muslim votes.”

He slammed Umno for not learning the lessons of the 2008 election debacle, saying that both Umno and BN were surely losing the war of perception among voters.

Since 2008, he said the people have been demanding reforms and good governance, but the Umno-led administration had failed to deliver.

Instead, he said Umno had resorted to its age-old tactics of racial and religious spins.

“Public perception on the BN government now is that corruption and racism will not stop,” he said

He said BN could face “a political death” in the next general election if issues behind the coalition’s “defeat” in Sarawak were not addressed immediately.

“It’s time for Umno and BN to buck up, or else they will have to pack up,” Baljit said.

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