Thursday November 11, 2010
Zahid: I was not insensitive
KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has refuted claims that he was insensitive when he questioned the loyalty and integrity of the non-Malays even as he came under more criticism from his Barisan Nasional colleagues.
He was reported to have said in Parliament on Tuesday that lack of patriotism was a reason for the low number of non-Malay recruits in the armed forces when he announced that Chinese and Indians each made up less than one per cent of new recruits in the armed forces for the 2008/2009 session.
In his media statement yesterday to clarify the matter, he said that he had never made such statements nor intended to do so, reported Bernama.
"What I had said was that it was possible that it could be due to several factors, including the sense of patriotism that is not strong enough.
"There was also a possibility that it was because of the fear of the strict discipline in the armed forces, less attractive pay compared to the offer from the private sector, lack of encouragement from family members, and that there was less encouragement to join the force because of the various negative prejudices," he said.
Leaders from various political parties criticised him for his remark asking him to check his facts before making such statements.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the rakyat was fed-up with such remarks because the problem did not occur due to the people being unpatriotic.
"As a minister, he cannot doubt others' patriotism and loyalty. Instead, he should look into the ministry's recruitment system and find the root cause of the problem," he said.
MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said Dr Ahmad Zahid's statement would not bring any good for the harmony of the people.
"I would call it a self-inflicted wound," he said, adding that one's level of patriotism should not be judged by joining the armed forces.
MIC vice-president Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam in a statement said non-Malay personnel had complained to him of not getting promotions which he cited as one factor for the lack of interest in joining the force. Some failed in interviews despite meeting the required criteria, he added.
MIC Youth chief T. Mohan said Dr Ahmad Zahid's statement was a slap in the face for non-Malays who had sacrificed for the country's development.
He suggested the Government appoint non-Malays as deputy inspector-general of police and state chief police officers.
MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok said the Chinese had contributed heavily in the Defence Department, adding that Malaysians of all races had contributed towards the nation's independence and for nation building.
Gerakan vice-president Datuk Mah Siew Keong suggested that the Defence Ministry get help from relevant groups, including non-governmental organisations, to recruit non-Malays for the armed forces instead of pointing fingers.