KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — Former Umno leader Zaid Ibrahim today said that the party would be unable to flush out those joining the party to enrich themselves, but said it should at least refrain from hunting down the Chinese.
Zaid's comments this afternoon appeared to be aimed at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's call for Umno to shed its corrupt image, where its leaders are viewed as allegedly lining their pockets.
"Umno surely can't clean themselves of fortune hunters. At best they should try not to be Chinese hunters," the former de-facto law minister said on Twitter today, likely in reference to Dr Mahathir's column in Utusan Malaysia's weekend edition today.
Dr Mahathir had today written in Mingguan Malaysia that the injection of new blood into the Umno leadership this October through polls would counter views that it is corrupt.
Dr Mahathir, who himself led Umno for over two decades during his tenure as prime minister, said the best way to do this is by removing the older, entrenched party leaders in favour of the unpolluted youths.
"Today, many think that Umno is very corrupt. It is even assumed that Umno leaders at all levels had not joined the party to fight for race, religion and the country, but to enrich themselves," Dr Mahathir wrote in Mingguan Malaysia.
"Only by handing over the Umno leadership to the young and unpolluted can this cleansing of Umno become reality, and will be accepted by the community," Dr Mahathir added.
In a series of tweets earlier this afternoon, Zaid also took aim at controversial local film "Tanda Putera" which depicts the May 13, 1969 racial riots and the administration of Malaysia's second prime minister and his deputy.
Zaid blasted comments that described the film as "well-researched" despite its fictional nature, saying that the truth of the contentious 1969 events should instead be established through an inquiry.
"Tanda Putera is fiction but well researched and true.
Another of many stupid statements coming out of my country."
"In other countries they have public inquiry to find cause of national tragedy. In my country they do film. Another stupid thing," the politician-turned-businessman said when expressing his frustrations on Twitter.
Zaid also appeared to mock MCA, a Chinese-based Barisan Nasional (BN) component party, for not responding to minister Datuk Seri Nazri Azri's remarks linking "a few Chinese individuals" to the May 13 riots.
"The Chinese in MCA must have agreed with Nazri on May 13, from their silence. In which case we need more films from SB on other issues," Zaid said, likely referring to Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba, the director of "Tanda Putera".
Yesterday, Nazri said the Chinese community should not feel slighted over the controversial film Tanda Putera which allegedly portrays the former as having sparked the May 13 riots in 1969.
"The Chinese community as a whole is not responsible for what happened in 1969, only the individuals, they are the ones who should feel guilty.
"I personally feel that there are many Chinese Malaysians who are very Malaysian and they will not (be) involved with this and they should not be blamed because of a few Chinese individuals who were involved," the minister of tourism and culture told reporters.
Nazri, who said he has watched the film which premiered on August 29, said it was "well-researched" and reflects the "reality" of the turbulent period in the country's history.
But Shuhaimi had last week said the film was a work of fiction despite earlier vouching for its “historical accuracy”.
Shuhaimi also explained that “Tanda Putera” is essentially about Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his deputy Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman — “two men who gave up everything, including their lives for the country”.
“Tanda Putera”, which was originally slated for release on September 13 last year, was produced at a cost of RM4.8 million provided by FINAS and the Multimedia Development Corporation (Mdec).