Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek has verbally struck at PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for characterizing the action by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) at the prime minister and cabinet's Aidilfitri open house an expression of democracy.
Datuk Hadi also enunciated that the Hindraf action should be viewed as a positive change for the country’s democracy. In retaliation, Datuk Shabery pointed out that Hindraf was an illegal group that had disrupted an official governmental event involving the Prime Minister. He faulted Hindraft for ruining the hari raya holiday and the overall goodwill of the event and the festive season.
Datuk Shabery placed racial harmony and the communitarian atmosphere above that of confrontation in the name of freedom of expression. Moreover, in his view, Hindraf had spooked foreign guests at the event by appearing in such a brusque manner.
While Datuk Shabery and Datuk Hadi exchange verbal blows, UMNO is moving in other ways to do damage control by persuading Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to mend fences with Umno.
This call was made by Penang Umno Liaison Committee deputy chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Rashid Abdullah. Gerakan had cut ties with Umno after Bukit Bendera Umno chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail had called on Dr Koh to be stripped of his state Barisan chairman's post.
On these two fronts, one hard (retaliation against PAS over Hindraf) and the other soft (persuasion on Gerakan) may be representative of upcoming comprehensive efforts by UMNO to shore up support against the opposition which had been perceived to be gaining ground of late.
Bernama, "PAS Chief Ticked Off For Describing Hindraf's Action A Democratic Right" dated 5 October 2008 in Bernama [downloaded on 6 oct 2008], available at http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsgeneral.php?id=362701
Bernama, "Tsu Koon Urged To Mend Relations Between Penang Gerakan And State Umno" dated 5 October 2008 in Bernama website [downloaded on 6 Oct 2008], available at http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=362694
MalaysiaToday, "Dr Koh should mend ties with Penang Umno" dated in Malaysiatoday.com website [downloaded on 6 Oct 2008], available athttp://www.malaysiatoday.com/Latest-News/dr-koh-should-mend-ties-with-pe...