Malaysian Minister says his remarks on emigration misquoted
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has defended his statement in which he called for groups which did not accept the country's political system to migrate to countries where they find a suitable system.
Hamidi, who is the ruling Umno party vice-president, has been widely criticised for his statement which apparently refers to opposition parties and those opposing the Barisan Nasional coalition party.
He claimed that his statement to a local Malay daily was taken out of context by certain irresponsible parties.
"I actually said those who are not confident of our political system toberhijrah (emigrate) to countries with political systems that suited them.
"I am not being racist...I am just being practical in saying such groups should go to countries where they can translate their political beliefs into reality," Hamidi said yesterday.
He said people should not read the statement out of context and urged readers to read the full Utusan Malaysia article.
The Minister said Malaysia inherited the Commonwealth system and those who think that the system in the United States or other countries were more suitable could migrate there, Star quoted him as saying.
Hamidi also lambasted the opposition for disputing the general election results but recognising the results for Selangor, Penang and Kelantan, where they won.
"They are disputing the results very selectively," he said.
Meanwhile, opposition-ruled Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng wants Hamidi to retract his statement and issue a public apology.
"If he does not do so, then a censure motion will be made in the Parliament, under the proposal of opposition DAP parliamentarian head Lim Kit Siang.
"Dr Ahmad Zahid has until the Parliament sitting to retract his statement and apologise to the people," he said today.
In his column in the Malay daily, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the claim by the opposition front that they had won the May 5 polls by popular vote was an interpretation of the list system, or single transferable vote.
He reminded Malaysia had inherited the first-past-the-post system from Britain, adding that those who did not want to follow this system could emigrate where the list system was practised, such as in some republican nations.
"If they are truly loyal citizens, they will accept the political and electoral system as enshrined in our Federal Constitution. They also have to admit the truth of defeat in the first-past-the-post system," he said.
Opposition DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said Ahmad was denying Malaysians the right to a better voting system by telling them to emigrate.