KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — An Umno lawmaker questioned whether Khairy Jamaluddin had forgotten Malay culture after the former party Youth chief criticised some members’ donation drive for embattled former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said those party members’ solidarity with Najib, who has since been charged with three counts of criminal breach of trust and another of power abuse, is part of Malay culture in respecting their leaders and helping them when in need.
“Does Khairy not understand the Malay culture?” Tajuddin told Malay Mail yesterday.
“What happened now is many young people are trying to emulate and imitate the Western culture where they become individualistic and self-centred. They forget about their families when they are grown up. This is not the Malay culture.
“We want to change and progress, but for the better and not for the worst. We want to improve what we have,” added the Sik Umno division chief.
The Pasir Salak MP said Khairy’s series of tweets, which criticised racial sentiments raised by Umno leaders, made the Rembau MP seem too “liberal”.
He said Khairy should represent himself as a leader of Umno by putting Bumiputera rights and Islam first, as stated in the party’s constitution.
“Does he want to be the leader of non-Malays or the leader of his own people, the Malays or Pribumis? He should put the Pribumis first I am a Pribumi first and Malaysian second. I belong to a party that is a Malay party and not a Malaysian party.
“We must look back at our party constitution, but at the same time, we do not deny the rights of other races,” he said.
Tajuddin claimed that although Umno upheld Islam and the rights of Malays, the party did not marginalise or abandon other races during its 60-year governance of the country since independence.
“We are trying to help out people while others are enjoying life and benefitting from what we did as well. How can one accuse Umno of being racist? It is an unbecoming statement,” he said.
Umno supreme council member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, while agreeing with Khairy that the party could choose to go right-wing or take a moderate approach, disagreed with the Rembau MP’s claim that Umno had been using racial rhetoric after its party election.
He said returning to the party’s basic cause — which was protecting Malay rights, taking care of Islam and defending the rights of the monarchy — did not mean Umno has taken the “ultra-Malay” approach.
Lokman said this was provided for in the Umno constitution.
“We are going back to our principles according to the party constitution. If he thinks we have to be more liberal compared to what we have been doing now, then I beg to differ,” he said, referring to Khairy.
“The main reason we lost in the recent general election was because we were seen to have not 100 per cent protected the interests of Malays and Islam, which led to Malay voters opting to vote for PAS instead,” said the president of NGO Pemantau Malaysia Baru (PMB).
Lokman said Khairy should channel his focus towards helping the party highlight current issues such as the cost of living, which had already been raised by his NGO since the formation of the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
“We have been consistently criticising the failure of PH to fulfil their election promises.
“Khairy should have done better if he chooses to help the party voice out such matters on behalf of the public,” he said.
Khairy warned Umno on Thursday that it risked folding in 10 to 15 years if it went further right and used racist tactics.
In a series of tweets, Khairy expressed disappointment with his party’s newly elected leaders for attacking the appointments of non-Muslims as chief justice (CJ) and attorney general, saying that these were small issues compared to the economy and other social problems.
The former Cabinet minister said he was trying to fix his “house” so that it would not remain an extremist and racist right-wing party.
Lokman and his PMB have made racially-charged remarks since Umno and Barisan Nasional’s (BN) defeat, among others, accusing DAP of trying to make Christianity the country’s “official religion”.
Some Umno leaders have also criticised Putrajaya for recognising Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), and harped on about the use of the Malay language.