IPOH, July 30 — Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran today apologised and withdrew offensive references in a speech on history and immigration to the Malay archipelago.
In a statement, the DAP national vice chairman said his Tamil speech at a function in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, last week had been misconstrued to suggest he had used the word “pendatang” (immigrant) on people who found it offensive.
“I hereby unreservedly apologise for the hurt I may have caused and withdraw the offensive references in that extemporaneous speech,” he said.
“I am not and have never been a controversialist on issues of race and religion in our country and will always abide by what has been enshrined in our Federal Constitution,” he added.
The Ipoh Barat MP noted that words were so “chameleon-like” that they often took on different meanings in different languages, like his speech in Tamil.
“To halt that drift in the matter of my remarks at a function in Nilai last week, I have decided to apologise and to withdraw them to prevent the controversy from worsening.”
“I am sorry for any hurt I may have caused,” he added.
Utusan Malaysia had on Friday reported that Kulasegaran made the statement that Malays were “pendatang” in Malaysia, while Indians were the original residents of this country.
Kulasegaran then said on Saturday that his views on Malaysian history were twisted by those aiming to cause racial tension and accused the Umno-owned daily of fanning such sentiments.
The DAP MP said he had, in the event last week, explained that Indians arrived in the Malay Archipelago 2,500 years ago and brought Hinduism with them, citing as proof the archaeological discoveries in Kedah’s Lembah Bujang area, including the discovery of Sungai Batu.
He said history showed Hinduism to be the earliest religion embraced by locals in the Malay Peninsula and Archipelago and that this was later expanded to Buddhism, before Islam was brought to the region and popularised in the 15th century.