The Primary Industries Minister found himself in hot soup last week when he allegedly made a derogatory remark at
the Dewan Negara about rubber
He had purportedly said that “in the
estate, (it is) very difficult to see
whether the worker is working or not …
behind the tree what he is doing, I do
Dr Lim's remarks came in a reply to a question from a senator in relation to estate workers' claim for monthly wages, a long-standing issue.
The Gerakan president subsequently apologised “for any offence felt which was
His Dewan Negara remark, which was first
brought up by Tamil daily Malaysia
Nanban, caused an uproar among the
On first impression, one might think
that Dr Lim was racially insensitive but those who know him well will realise it isn't so.
A few years ago, Dr Lim earned the wrath
of the Hainanese community when he purportedly remarked that one should not
trust Hainanese and ghosts. It was a
figure of speech when talking about an
opposition party at a gathering in
Not too long ago, while campaigning for the Teluk Intan parliamentary
by-election, he was again in trouble
when he allegedly said that Gerakan did
not need Chinese votes. He denied having
said it, but the DAP went on to win the
So, it's not a case of ethnicity, but
past events indicate the importance of being racially sensitive in a multi-religious and multi-communal country
For politicians, this should be their
priority. A decade ago, a Barisan Nasional MP from the east coast was censured for saying that “if one sees an Indian and a snake, kill the Indian first.'' Many reacted angrily, quite rightly so, to his
Recently, former Information Minister
Datuk Mohamed Rahmat spoke of Datin Seri
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail's purported
Chinese ancestry, allegedly implying
that she was not fit to lead the
Her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,
then refuted Mohamed's claim of Azizah's
cap naga or descendants of the dragon.
The Chinese dailies later quoted Mohamed
as saying that it was not his intention
to hurt the feelings of the
Again, those who know Mohamed will
accept his explanation. His wife is,
after all, a Chinese and he has many
close Chinese friends.
But it's not just government leaders who have put their foot in their mouths. Those linked to the reformasi
movement have continuously brought up
the Prime Minister's ethnic ancestry in
His Indian background has been used by
speakers and demonstrators to mock him and his leadership.
Yet, these are the same politicians who speak of multi-racialism and racial unity in the same breath.
After 42 years of independence, it is
time for Malaysians, irrespective of their status, to de-emphasise their
ethnicity. There is no room for
communalism as Malaysians move into the next millennium.
Over the past decade, Datuk Seri Dr
Mahathir Mohamad, more than anyone else,
has instilled a sense of confidence
Selangor Gerakan Youth chief Pritpal
Singh Sidhu has initiated the boycott of
Malaysian Nanban, saying it was a
retaliation for what the movement saw as
unfair reporting of Dr Lim's Dewan Negara
The movement is understandably upset
with the incident but it should not look
The Hansard is there for everyone to read and Malaysians are able to judge whether the newspaper took Dr
Lim's statement out of context.
In the interest of Malaysia, Dr Lim has
sportingly apologised. There is no need
to prolong the issue as there are bigger challenges ahead for the nation and the people.