Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa (above) said the party's Kemayan assemblyperson Mohd Fadil Osman's comment likening students in Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools to pendatang was his personal view.
"The party headquarters understands that an assemblyperson has certain freedom and immunity to voice out and give their views during the state assembly sitting.
"However, it should be reminded that the Kemayan assemblyperson's speech was purely his personal view and certainly does not represent the party's policy or stance," he said in a statement today.
Annuar stressed that Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and the national education policy.
"Umno and BN will also continue to defend the position of Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools.
"Therefore, leaders are reminded to respect the policy that has been agreed upon by past leaders and not question them in a manner that sends the wrong message or confuses.
"It is hoped that such confusion will not repeat in future," he said. Annuar added that a letter would be sent to Fadil on the matter.
"It is hoped that no quarter will take advantage to cause further confusion in relation to the Kemayan state assemblyperson's personal statement," he said.
Fadil, during the Pahang state assembly sitting, claimed that students in Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools were not fluent in the national language.
He added that while they were Malaysians, they behaved like pendatang.
The term pendatang - which means 'those who came' - has been used by zealots to suggest non-Malays are foreigners, thus lesser citizens.
Yesterday, Fadil said his statement was merely based on a previous news report which quoted academic Teo Kok Seong as stating that a majority of Chinese school graduates were not fluent in the national language.
Meanwhile, former BN minister Khairy Jamaluddin chided the Umno secretary-general’s response to Mohd Fadil’s statement, stating that the party should no longer hide behind the “personal view” excuse.
“Umno can no longer give the ‘personal view’ excuse whenever one leader or representative makes a racist statement.
“(The leader/representative) should at least be officially reprimanded by the supreme council or the necessary disciplinary action taken. Jangan lagi sebab nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga (a Malay proverb which means not letting the name of the entire party be affected by one person’s actions),” Khairy posted on Twitter today.