Sunday, September 24, 2006

Historical baggage, Part 3

Malaysian PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has jumped into the fray to criticise Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's racial remarks.

As former Foreign Affairs Minister, Badawi has learnt the skills to be more diplomatic, saying that he will demand a written explanation from Kuan Yew on the matter.

He is different from former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad who didn't pull his punches in his rebuttal, which was not mentioned in the New Straits Times or The Star reports.

But will Badawi declassify letter should he get one from Kuan Yew on the highly emotional issue? We have to wait and see.

Explain yourself, PM tells Kuan Yew
By Deborah Loh

24 September, 2006

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia wants an explanation. The Prime Minister will write to Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew seeking an explanation for his remarks that Malaysian Chinese had been 'marginalised' and were 'compliant'.

The comments could cause racial tension, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday, adding that a stable Malaysia was crucial to Singapore's well being.

"I will write a letter to him. I want him to explain his statement,'' Abdullah told reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday upon arrival from London, after a two-week working trip abroad (Pix from the The Star).

He was asked if he would demand an apology from Lee, whose statement has been criticised by DPM Najib Razak and Chinese politicians, including Gerakan president Dr Lim Keng Yaik.

"Najib said it was a naughty statement and I agree. But it is also a statement which can incite Malaysian citizens of Chinese descent. It is not fair at all, for a neighbouring country to say that.

"Lee should understand that our relationship with Singapore is one that has to be nurtured well. He should appreciate the stability we have on our side, because if we are not stable, Singapore will have problems," Abdullah said.

Lee made his remarks at a forum last week.

Abdullah said Lee's statement was "not welcomed" and the republic's founding father had appeared to show no qualms about making such a highly-charged remark.

"Singapore too has problems in terms of race relations. Not everything there is 100 per cent perfect," Abdullah added.