KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Datuk Ahmad Ismail, the man who put race relations on a knife’s edge with his comments about Chinese in Malaysia in August last year, will remain a free man — for the time being.
The police have wrapped up investigations into a sedition charge against him but thanks to the intervention of senior party leaders, the veteran Penang Umno politician is not likely to see the inside of the courtroom anytime soon.
Umno sources told The Malaysian Insider that several delegations of party officials from Penang made representations to the Umno leadership on behalf of Ahmad over the past week, arguing that he has already paid a severe price for calling Chinese “immigrants’’ and “squatters’’ during a political rally in the run-up to the Permatang Pauh by-election.
Ahmad was suspended from holding any positions in Umno for three years by the party’s supreme council. His supporters also pointed out that charging him in court would merely re-ignite debate on race and religious issues and further complicate relations between component parties in Barisan Nasional.
Party officials were also concerned on the impact action against Ahmad could have on the fluid political situation in Umno.
“There is still a concern that some state assemblymen and MPs may be considering jumping over to the opposition. Ahmad Ismail is a popular figure in Umno. He may be vilified outside the party but among party members, there is a great deal of respect for standing up for Malay rights,” said a party official.
Earlier this week, The Malaysian Insider reported that the police had completed their probe into the Umno warlord and that the Attorney-General’s Chambers was on the cusp of ordering that the politician be charged with sedition.
News of this impending action filtered to the party rank and file in Penang and they made a beeline to Putrajaya to plead and cajole on behalf of Ahmad.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
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