PETALING JAYA, Dec 25 — A dialogue session with PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in London yesterday turned into a heated verbal exchange between participants after he invoked the spectre of the bloody May 13 racial riots in warning against local elections.
According to a report by Malaysiakini, Abdul Hadi was earlier responding to a question by a participant on why the former was against the implementation of local council elections.
“When an election is contested only by residents [and does not include those who serve the residents], it is certain that big cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Penang, Seremban, and Johor Baru would be dominated by DAP Chinese.
“They can make alcohol and gambling permissible,” he reportedly said in the event held by PAS supporters’ club in the United Kingdom, but the report did not state his proof for the assertion.
He argued that local elections must be inclusive so that cities are not dominated by just one race.
“So an election must involve the taxi drivers, traders, and all those who make a city alive.
“If only one race is in power then a situation like in May 13, 1969 may arise again, we don’t want that,” he said in the report.
However the mention of May 13 caused the participant who claimed to have raised funds for PAS in 2013, to verbally abuse Abdul Hadi by chiding the Islamist politician of being “stuck in 1969.”
When asked to calm down, the man responded with a barrage of expletives by telling the other individual to mind their own business.
The verbal exchange did not stop there as the man then subsequently challenged the other audience member to meet him “outside,” before calling Abdul Hadi a racist.
Abdul Hadi, who is also Marang MP, then responded by saying he was not a racist.
“May 13 did not happen in Kelantan and Terengganu... The Chinese and Indians there were not harassed,” he reportedly said before reiterating that local council elections must be inclusive, so that no one race controls the cities as this can cause tension.
He also said that the freedom of other races would not be impeded, giving the example of non-Muslims in Kelantan and Terengganu being allowed to consume alcohol.
“We don’t restrict the freedoms of other religions, but they must be aware of the sensitivities of those around them,” he was quoted saying.
Abdul Hadi had last week claimed proposals to reinstate the third vote here are merely aping what Western countries are doing, claiming local elections will only benefit the Chinese community in the long run, rather than other ethnic groups.
Pakatan Harapan had pledged to restore local council elections as part of its reform and transparency drive, but Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad rejected the idea claiming it may end up causing racial strife in the country as the needs of urban and rural communities differ greatly.