KOTA KINABALU: Umno’s only non-Muslim MP, Ronald Kiandee, has dismissed claims of racist tones at the party’s general assemblies, saying it is normal for delegates to speak for the rights of Malays and Muslims as the majority of Umno members are from this group.
“I have heard what people say about Umno. People actually ask me how I feel when I hear how other party members talk during Umno meetings or even at the general assembly.
“Some people say the tone used by delegates at Umno assemblies borders on racism. I disagree because through my own experience, these people are not racists.”
Speaking to FMT, Kiandee said the delegates talked openly about Malay struggles, Malay supremacy and religion during the assemblies.
However, he added that he had never been bothered by any of the discussions.
The four-term Beluran MP in the Sandakan division said although he was a non-Muslim, he never felt sidelined by other party members.
He said Umno members were expected to talk about their race and religion because the party’s main objective was to struggle for Malay rights and Islam.
It would be strange for a Malay-based party to talk about the rights of other races or religions at their own party meetings, he added.
“If people want Umno to talk about other races, then they should join Umno. I am just one person.
“I cannot tell them to talk about my rights when I am not in the majority. Since Umno is majority Malay, of course they’ll talk about their race.”
Kiandee added that it was thanks to his membership in Umno and close ties with ministers from the party that people in his constituency were benefitting from the government’s assistance.
“People see the advantages when they go to the ground and realise that our differences stop at our race and religion.
“Our political goal is the same: that is, to help the people.”
Kiandee’s appointment as deputy speaker has also been seen as proof of Umno’s openness to other races.
Sabah has more than 500,000 Umno members – the highest among all the states in the country.
They include non-Muslim Bumiputeras as well as a small number of Chinese.