KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today defended DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng who is accused of touching on sensitive issues after claiming non-Muslim houses of worship risk being demolished by the “green wave”.

Ahmad Zahid said there were certain quarters attempting to play up the “3R” (race, religion, royalty) issue and discredit the former finance minister, attributing such a move as character assassination.

“No, I have read the news report as well. It happened some time ago but is now being repeated to tarnish Lim.

“I think if we are so different politically, it is better for such differences to have good political values. Do not resort to character assassination,” he was quoted as saying by Berita Harian.

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Yesterday, Lim regretted that his speech in Mandarin had allegedly been intentionally twisted and portrayed as if he was fanning racial and religious sentiments, saying that it had never crossed his mind to use “3R” (race, religion, royalty) issues to garner votes as he believes those issues would jeopardise the harmony of Malaysia’s multiracial and multireligious community.

Lim said he was referring to the case of a Hindu temple being demolished in July 2020 in Alor Setar, Kedah.

Today, Lim also accused PN of allegedly maliciously using defamation to make politically-motivated false allegations against him based on his speech.

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China Press had on July 7 reported Lim’s speech where he reportedly claimed that Hindu temples risk being demolished by the “green wave” if it does not like the sight of such temples.

In its July 8 translation, MalaysiaNow cited Lim as allegedly suggesting that Buddhist temples were at risk of destruction if the “green wave” arrives in Penang.

MalaysiaNow’s July 8 article currently carries an “editor’s note”, where the portal claimed that China Press had amended its quote in the news report to add the word “Indian” before the word “temples” and to remove the word “Buddha”.

In the same article, China Press reproduced the sentence from its news report and also published Lim’s full remarks based on an audio recording.

The “green wave” — named after PAS’s party colour — was coined to describe the rise in Malay-Muslim conservatism espoused by the Islamist party and its PN partner Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).