Gerakan suspends delegate over ‘pendatang’ speech

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — Gerakan suspended with immediate effect the membership of its Johor delegate who claimed that Malays are “pendatang” or immigrants during the party’s 43rd National Delegates Conference here yesterday. 

The party’s deputy president Datuk Dr Cheah Soon Hai said today the statement by Tan Lai Soon did not in any way reflect the party’s stand, especially as Gerakan is “a party of all races”.


“It is not the party’s stand; we are all Malaysians and no Malaysian is a ‘pendatang’ or an immigrant,” Dr Cheah said at a news conference here.


Yesterday, Tan told his party’s national conference that Umno supporters, who had in the past referred to the country’s ethnic Chinese as immigrants, did not realise that the Malays also did not originate from Malaysia.


“I want to explain Malaysians’ position. The Malays, Chinese, Indians, are all pendatangs (immigrants) other than the indigenous people, Sabahans, Sarawakians — the original Bumiputera.


“So when Umno’s people say the Chinese are pendatang, they didn’t think that they are also pendatang from Indonesia,” he said when debating the presidential address.


Tan also took aim at Malay rights NGOs such as Perkasa and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), calling them “people with serious mental issues” for their alleged penchant for making “nonsensical” and incendiary comments that touch on racial sensitivities.


Following his remarks, Pertubuhan-Pertubuhan Pembela Islam (Pembela) and Isma lodged a police report against the Gerakan delegate this morning.


Dr Cheah today said Tan will now have 14 days to respond to a show-cause letter issued by the party’s central working committee, to argue his case as to why he should not be sacked over the debacle.


The deputy president noted that they are duty bound to abide by the position taken by party President Datuk Mah Siew Keong, to sack any leaders in BN who are found guilty of making racist comments.


“This is the principle that we will follow,” he said, when asked if Tan will likely be sacked from Gerakan over his remarks.


“We don’t condone any remark that is un-Malaysian. Gerakan will always uphold the (Federal) Constitution and the Rukun Negara... on behalf of Gerakan, we apologise to all Malaysians who have been hurt by his remarks,” Dr Cheah added.






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