11th June, 2007
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah DAP leaders yesterday censured Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hj Mohd Ali Rustam for his remark that “it is easy to become a Malay”.
They described the remarks as controversial, racist, inflammatory, nonsensical and a gross insult to other races in this country.
At a news conference held at the Tanjung Aru Plaza here, DAP Liawan Branch Chairman, Paul Kadau and its Tamparuli Branch Chairman Edward Muji, who is also DAP Sabah Bumiputera Affairs Bureau Chairman, censured the statement outright.
“I am really outraged by the statement made by the Malacca Chief Minister. What about those illegal immigrants like the Filipinos and Indonesians if they are Muslims, can they also automatically become a Malay?”
“And how about the Chinese and the Indians? Even if they have embraced Islam, even if they were to be considered a Malay, they still could not qualify themselves as a Bumiputera, unless there has been a change in our law which I’m not aware of.
“In fact in my family, quite a number of my relatives are Muslims but they are proud to be recognized as a Kadazan, a Dusun or a Murut. So, what is the motive of him (Mohd Ali) coming here to make such a controversial statement without considering the feeling of the other races in Sabah,” said Paul Kadau.
At a press conference here last Saturday in conjunction with the opening of the Dunia Muslim Dunia Islam (DMDI) seminar, Mohd Ali who is the President of DMDI had said that “a person who is a Muslim, can converse in Malay and follows the Malay tradition is considered a Malay.”
He also said that even if that person is a Chinese or a Indian or a Kadazan, if they are Muslim or have converted, converse in Malay and follow the Malay tradition, they are Malays.
“The Kazadan if they are a Muslim, we considered them as Malays, and if they have not embraced Islam, they are Bumiputeras. It is easy to become a Malay,” he was quoted as saying.
“He has no right to come to Sabah to make such an outrageous and insulting statement. I believe not even our Chief Minister Datuk Musa Hj Aman would agree to such a statement.
“Is he coming here with the intention to convert or urge the Kadazandusun Murut people to embrace Islam so that they too could be considered as Malays, so that the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) community in Sabah can be further marginalized?” Kadau questioned.
He too concurred with the previous statement made by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang in Parliament that the KDM is so marginalized that today they have become the “new underclass” of Sabah.
He thus called on all his relatives who are Muslims to maintain their Kadazandusun Murut identity, stressing that it was important to preserve their root.
A Dusun himself, Muji too concurred with Kadau’s statement especially questioning the validity of Mohd Ali’s statement.
“My own relatives even my own daughter has become a Muslim after marrying a Muslim man but she is definitely not a Malay. How can she change her identity overnight?” questioned Muji.
Also present at the media briefing were Sabah DAP Liaison Chief cum DAP National Publicity Secretary-cum-MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok, its Assistant Publicity Secretary Fong Po Kuan who is also MP for Batu Gajah, Liew Chin Tong, Election Strategy Advisor to DAP Secretary General, Lim Guan Eng, DAP Kota Kinabalu Branch Chairman Dr Hiew King Cheu, its Likas Branch Chairman Frederick Fung, its Kepayan Branch Chairman Steven Jimbangan, its Kuamut Branch Chairman Jusing@Geoffrey Sabran and DAP Sabah Youth Chief Benny Chua.
Teresa who shared the sentiment of Kadau and Muji meanwhile pointed out that Mohd Ali’s remarks was not only inflammatory but also completely against the Government’s aspiration of promoting a truly united ‘Malaysian race’ as envisioned in the “Vision 2020”.
She noted that even the Federal Cabinet had recently made a decision to adopt the term “Bahasa Malaysia” instead of “Bahasa Melayu”, for the national language.
“Such a racist statement should be condemned by all Malaysians especially the people of Sabah. By right, we should all regard ourselves as Malaysians first then only our race and this is what we in the DAP have been promoting all these while with our “Malaysian First” campaign.
“We should all demand to be treated equally in all aspects of our life be it in politics or socio-economic development as we are all born in this country and are working for the betterment of this country,” she asserted.
Liew meanwhile chipped in and asked whether Mohd Ali was confirming Kit Siang’s recent argument that the Malays are the ‘first-class’ citizens in Sabah while the KDM are the underclass.
“Therefore, is he (Mohd Ali) saying that the KDM should now rush to become a Malay since it’s so easy to become a Malay, or is there a conspiracy to convert the existing Christian KDM to become a Muslim by virtue of becoming a Malay?” he questioned.