Monday, September 08, 2008

Our right to review role in BN: Tsu Koon

Our right to review role in BN: Tsu Koon
by Maria J. Dass

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 9, 2008): Gerakan has the right to question, evaluate and assess its role in the Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling coalition, says party acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

“We also do not want to be ‘blind yes men’ without a meaningful role in the coalition,” he added.

Speaking to reporters at the Selangor Gerakan delegates conference in Kelab Rahman Putra, Sungai Buloh on Sunday, Koh said: “Neither do we want to be emotional and leave BN just because one person asked us to get out.”

He was responding to questions from reporters on Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail’s statement calling for Gerakan to be expelled from BN.

Koh equated Gerakan’s re-evaluation of its role in BN to the re-evaluation of a shareholders’ role in a company and said there was no stipulated time frame for Gerakan to make a decision.

Ahmad has been hogging the headlines since the Permatang Pauh by-election where he allegedly referred to the Chinese as immigrants squatting in the country and, therefore, are not entitled to equal rights.

Koh said BN should be concentrating its efforts toward strengthening the coalition and addressing the wider socio- economic problems in the country instead of being bogged down by sensitive race and religion issues.

He also said the party did not intend to walk out of the BN, saying the party preferred to stay on and mend the cracks the way a “husband and wife” or siblings work things out.

“BN component parties should not be at loggerheads because of one person’s insensitive statements,” he stressed.

Describing the current challenges as very troubling times, Koh in his address to delegates said instead of focusing on reforms, the party is busy dousing the flames ignited by issues and emotions that have been plaguing the various religious and ethnic groups in the country.

By not seeing results, people continue to be unhappy and uneasy and are concerned with the direction in which the country is headed, he said.

He said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s apology and statement yesterday recognising the Chinese’s contribution to the country is appreciated, but there needs to be some sort of mechanism to ensure that such issues did not recur.

“That is why I suggested the BN supreme council and management committee meet and formulate a code of conduct for coalition members together with clear and firm disciplinary action against those whose words and actions affected racial harmony in the country.

“Parties may be reluctant to act against their members and thus it will be better, in this case, for the supreme council to handle the matter. For now, it is not too difficult for Ahmad to apologise but since he disputes the allegation we will leave it to the police to investigate and for the legal procedure to take its course.”

“As it is, the people are angry with the BN despite the coalition’s contributions to the country over the years. The rest of the coalition should not be held at ransom just because of one person’s statement,” he said.

Koh agreed with Abdullah’s call to stop speaking along racial lines but maintained that the coalition needs to know how to address the problem when it does happen.

Updated: 12:37AM Mon, 08 Sep 2008

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