Both Pakatan Harapan and BN advisory council chairperson Najib Abdul Razak have levelled accusations of racism against each other on the eve of the Tanjung Piai by-election.
The Harapan secretariat, in a joint statement by its four component parties, accused Najib of racism over comments made at a ceramah in Tanjung Piai yesterday about Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is also the DAP secretary-general.
During the ceramah, Najib had said: "Where is the honour of the Malays if the finance minister is (from) DAP. Can he take care of the honour of Malays? He does not know the Malay agenda".
"The former prime minister, who has been ordered by the court to enter defence over charges of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering, tried to sow hatred towards the Chinese by questioning the finance minister's racial identity.
"We would like to remind Najib that his own father Abdul Razak had appointed the late MCA president Tan Siew Sin as finance minister from 1970 to 1974. He had also served as finance minister since 1959.
"Was the country’s honour not taken care of during (then prime ministers) Abdul Razak's and Abdul Rahman's time as they had appointed a Chinese finance minister?" they said.
The statement was jointly signed by Harapan secretariat chief Saifuddin Abdullah, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, Bersatu secretary-general Marzuki Yahya, acting Amanah secretary-general Abang Ahmad Kerdee and DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke.
They stressed that the finance minister should be judged by his integrity and not skin colour.
However, Najib in a rebuttal said he had never mentioned race in his speech.
Instead, Najib said he was referring to a statement made by Lim on Nov 3 at the Johor DAP convention.
"For the information of friends, Tan Siew Sin never made such racist statements.
In the statement, Lim (above) had said that an MCA and BN victory in Tanjung Piai would be an endorsement of the Umno-PAS alliance.
He said the Umno-PAS philosophy believes, amongst others, that non-Muslims and non-Malays do not deserve ministerial positions in the government, vernacular schools should be closed down and non-Muslim goods boycotted.
"Tan Siew Sin also never said the PAS-Umno unity in BN is a declaration of war against non-Malays as per his statement in May.
"The people can judge who is the one that plays racial issues," said Najib.
The two frontrunners in the Tanjung Piai by-election are MCA's Wee Jeck Seng, who is contesting under BN's logo, and Bersatu's Karmaine Sardini, who will contest under Harapan's banner.
The other candidates are Berjasa's Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, Gerakan's Wendy Subramaniam and independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar.
Campaigning began on Nov 2 and Tanjung Piai voters will go to the polls tomorrow.
The by-election was called after the incumbent MP, Bersatu's Md Farid Md Rafik, passed away from a heart attack in September, just three weeks before his 43rd birthday.