KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional (BN) secretary-general Nazri Aziz has defended his controversial speech in Semenyih, where he is alleged to have asked for vernacular schools to be shut down.
Nazri called it an attempt to paint an inaccurate picture of what he had said, when all he had asked was for all quarters to respect the rights of Malays as well as non-Malays.
“I knew it was caught on video, and I deny asking for vernacular schools to be closed. This is not true.
“When I gave that speech, I was aware it was being recorded. As a lawyer and former minister, I realise what I said cannot be racist and should just be based on facts,” he said at a press conference today.
Nazri has been on the receiving end of criticisms over his speech, with the likes of MCA and Gerakan chiding him for being racist.
The former minister was said to have questioned the appointment of non-Muslims as the attorney-general, chief justice and finance minister, saying this meant they were not able to be sworn in using the Quran.
He also reportedly warned non-Malays not to question Malay special privileges, pointing out the non-Malays also have their vernacular schools to preserve.
The Padang Rengas MP urged all quarters to look at his record of defending the rights of minorities, including the vernacular school system.
“In my speech, I said that all Malaysians have special rights. The Bumiputeras have the national schools, Islam as the religion of the federation, quota for public service and in the distribution of the nation’s wealth.
“The Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak also have their special rights,” he said.
He said he is of the view that the rights of the minorities in Malaysia must be defended, and that vernacular schools must continue to exist.
Nazri also said he was called in by police to give his statement, as there was a police report lodged against him.
He then explained his statement on the attorney-general, saying what he had meant was, if the AG was not a Bumiputera, there was bound to be impartiality.
Nazri said the classic example was how the AG handled the case involving deceased fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who is alleged to have been beaten during the Seafield temple riots.
“I am merely voicing out the unhappiness of the people on the ground. That certainly cannot be considered seditious,” he said.
Nazri also slammed MCA leaders for not donning the signature blue BN shirt when campaigning for the coalition’s candidate.
“It may have been the case (MCA not wearing BN shirts) in the 14th general election, but since the Balakong by-election… constructively, they are not part of BN.
“I am not concerned about them (MCA). What I am concerned about is that there are other quarters and component parties helping us out in the campaign in Semenyih.
“Even I am not clear about their status in BN,” he said, adding that MCA needs to clear the air over their position in BN.