Ahmad Ismail blames Koh for tensions

Posted by Penarik Beca Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Malaysian Insider (8/9/08): It was supposed to be a press conference for the Bukit Bendera Umno chief, Datuk Ahmad Ismail to diffuse the situation.

What happened instead after the press conference was his supporters tore up in anger a picture of former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and engaged in a shouting match with reporters.

This happened after Ahmad, while defending his position, urged the Barisan Nasional leadership to expel Gerakan from the coalition.

His supporters also engaged in a shouting match with a reporter from an English language daily that reached its lowest point with death threats hurled at her.

Ahmad had been directed by Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to hold a press conference today to try to diffuse the tensions sparked by his controversial remarks during the recent Permatang Pauh by-election campaign in which he referred to the Chinese in Malaysia as "squatters".

He read from a prepared statement, in which he defended his decision not to apologise for his remarks, and repeated his stand that he had been quoted out of context.

Ahmad put the blame for mounting racial tensions squarely on the shoulders of Koh, whom he accused of being a good actor who was instigating the Chinese.

He also attacked the reporter from a Chinese language daily for misreporting his speech.

"I was only mentioning the facts of what was the situation before Merdeka. Nobody can change history," he said.

He said Gerakan leaders were trying to make him a scapegoat, and that Koh was creating a "sandiwara," which caused tensions to rise.

"I have worked with him for the past 18 years. I know him very well. He is a good actor," he said.

He said the patience of Malays had its limits.

"I want to appeal to the Chinese not to become like the Jewish in America. It is not enough they control the economy, now they want political control."

Ahmad only answered one question from the press, before he ended the press conference.

Ahmad's supporters, who were also present during his press conference last Friday, even took down the picture of former Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, from the wall of the conference room.

"One reporter insisted that I answer one more question from her, she was being a little bit rude, so some people got upset, you know how we Malays sometimes get angry with this kind of behaviour," said Ahmad when contacted.

"I was already in the office when they were arguing," he told The Malaysian Insider.

He added that he came out of the office when he heard the commotion to calm down his supporters.

Ahmad, however, said that the supporters ended up tearing the picture of Koh, as the frame was firmly nailed to the wall.

"Nothing serious happened," said Ahmad who reiterated that he was subjected to unfair trial by the media.

However, according to eye witnesses present at the press conference, some of Ahmad's supporters shouted, "sudah lah (enough)" and "bunuh dia (kill her)," at one reporter from an English daily who insisted on asking one more question.

"Of course she got angry as she was just doing her job, and the supporters were trying to intimidate her," said a reporter who was present at the press conference.

The reporter who was verbally abused by the Umno supporters said she would check with her employer on the next course of action.

On Friday, Penang opposition leader and state Umno secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said that one reporter from a Chinese daily should be blamed for twisting Ahmad's words.

"What was written may lead to a racial riot. If such a thing happens, he is the first person that should be shot," said Azhar.

On Saturday, during the state Umno liaison committee meeting chaired by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Ahmad presented his case and explained that his remark was made in a historical context.

Abdullah later said that Ahmad is not a racist although he did not say whether he accepted Ahmad's explanation.

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