Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should use his National Day speech this year to apologise for the 'divisive and outrageous' message he made last year against the ethnic Chinese, DAP leader Lim Kit Siang said today.
"He should use his speech to heal the wounds and start a new page in nation-building by apologising for his speech last year," said the DAP chairperson.
Mahathir, in his speech last Aug 30, lambasted Chinese lobby group Suqiu over its 17-point appeal which included the abolishment of the bumiputra and non-bumiputra distinction. The well-supported Suqiu, or the Malaysian Chinese Organisations Election Appeals Committee, made the appeals before the 1999 general elections and they were initially approved in principle by the cabinet.
However, 10 months later, the prime minister said that Suqiu was behaving like 'communists of the past' by making those 'demands'.
"Because it seems as if the government headed by the Malays has become weaker, the Chinese extremists who are displeased with the cooperation among the various races in Malaysia are starting to hurt the feelings of the Malays by making all sorts of absurd demands," Mahathir had said.
Lim said that the premier's speech last year had evoked strong reactions from everyone, and had resulted in the stock exchange dropping when all other bourses in the region were gaining.
The veteran politician also said that Mahathir's statement against Suqiu was unacceptable as Barisan Nasional had openly endorsed the Suqiu appeals before the 1999 general elections.
"And now Mahathir himself has adopted the Suqiu call for meritocracy to be introduced in the higher education system, especially among the bumiputra students," said Lim.
The former leader of the opposition also claimed that Mahathir's attack on Suqiu in his speech contained falsehoods with regard to labelling the lobby group as 'Chinese extremists' and the allegation that it was 'displeased with cooperation among the various races'.
He added that the premier must 'have the humility to heal the wounds that he had opened' by apologising and withdrawing his statement made last year.
Following the statement by Mahathir, coupled with intense political pressure, especially from Umno Youth, Suqiu was forced to back down on its appeals, setting aside seven of its 83-sub points considered sensitive early this year.