Thursday, September 04, 2008

Even PM couldn't reach Ahmad

Malaysia Star

PUTRAJAYA: It is not just the journalists and the senior Umno leaders who were trying to contact former senator Datuk Ahmad Ismail, who became elusive after allegedly uttering seditious remarks.

Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had been trying unsuccessfully to contact him after the controversy arose.

"I have been trying to get Ahmad but have not managed to contact him. I know the journalists have been trying to contact him.

"Insyallah, we'll get him. Where can he escape to? When I go to Penang, I will surely see him," he told reporters Thursday after chairing the first National Finance Council meeting of the year here.

Ahmad is currently being investigated under the Sedition Act for calling Chinese “immigrants” who do not deserve equal rights in the country at a ceramah on the eve of the Permatang Pauh by-election.

However, the Bukit Bendera Umno chief was nowhere to be found.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has since apologised on Ahmad's behalf.

Abdullah said Najib's apology was the "right thing to do" although the sentiment on the ground was that the apology should come from Ahmad himself.

"That's what everybody feels, I think. He has said that it was not his intention to offend the Chinese community but he had already uttered such remarks.

"There is a saying terlajak kata tak boleh undur (once you've said something wrongly, you cannot take it back). That's the problem," he said.

Abdullah stressed that Ahmad's remarks did not reflect Umno's policy or that of its members and that the party had always believed in the principle of cooperation and harmony.

"We uphold this principle strongly despite there being a few mistakes in the implementation of certain policies," he pointed out. Abdullah said this principle of cooperation and harmony was particularly practised during Cabinet meetings, where a whole host of issues were thrashed among the members.

"People will be surprised to hear the issues that Cabinet members from other Barisan component parties fight so hard for," he said. On the "crack" team deployed to the Gulf of Aden to provide protection to Malaysian merchant ships there, Abdullah said the Cabinet had approved the move.

Even PM can't reach Ahmad
Malaysia Star, Malaysia