Why Khairy Jamaluddin’s ‘apology’ is not an apology and therefore is not acceptable

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 3rd of June, 2014

It was reported yesterday in Malaysiakini that UMNO Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin, in response to a question from a Malaysiakini reporter on whether he would publicly apologize for the behaviour of the UMNO KLFT Youth leaders who threatened to burn down the DAP Headquarters on Thursday, 22nd of May, 2014, said the following:

“Whether it is private or public, it is the same thing. I have already said that as far as the damage to DAP property is concerned, I have conveyed my apologies and I have offered to pay for that. “I think that should be sufficient”.[1]

I wish to raise the following points in response:

Firstly, it was never my intention to disclose Khairy’s private apology publicly. While I shared his private message with my fellow DAP parliamentary colleagues, my understanding was that this was a private message meant for me and not to be disclosed for public consumption. Many politicians from both sides of the political divide regularly share private messages either verbally or via other means of communication such as SMS, email, twitter, facebook and so on. My understanding has always been that these private messages are ‘off the record’ and should not be used to gain political mileage for either side. It was only after Khairy revealed to Malaysiakini that he had apologized to me in public that I responded by saying that this private apology is not acceptable.[2] I had given the example of whether it would be acceptable for DAP members to go to the headquarters of UMNO, damage its property and later send a private message of apology to the Prime Minister.[3] I stand by my earlier call that a private apology to me is insufficient and that Khairy has to issue a public apology to the DAP for the gangster-like behaviour of UMNO KLFT Youth Chief Razlan Rafii who threatened to burn down the DAP headquarters and who tore up his own memo and threw it at my face.

Secondly, since Khairy has publicly said that he had apologized to me in private, I will take the opportunity to share the content of his ‘apology’. (Appendix 1)

Khairy Jamaluddin: The lads got carried away. Apologies for the sign. I’ll have it replaced. Please inform your party. (May 22)

Ong Kian Ming: They r coming again tomorrow after prayers, expected to b bigger group, hope u can ask them not to come, hard to control once they r here. (May 22)

Khairy Jamaluddin: OK.

Khairy Jamaluddin: Send me the bill for the sign. (May 22)

Ong Kian Ming: bro, a private apology cannot be considered an apology lah (May 23)

I want to highlight the fact that Khairy did not apologize for the behaviour of his UMNO Youth colleagues but rather only apologized for the sign being damaged. His failure to apologize, even in private, for the threats issued by UMNO FTKL Youth Chief Razlan Rafii to burn down the DAP headquarters and for the gangster-like behaviour of the UMNO KLFT Youth leaders and members is unbecoming of a Youth Leader who talks a good talk when facing a more ‘liberal’ audience or an international audience but does not have the courage to acknowledge and condemn the unacceptable and uncivilized behaviour of his own UMNO Youth leaders.

I would like to remind Khairy of his own speech made to the UMNO Youth delegates in the 2012 UMNO General Assembly where he said the following:

23. On to the ninth proposal; UMNO Youth urges the Prime Minister to be steadfast and committed to his political transformation program. Apart from economic issues, political transformation is critical to young people, wherever they may be. They desire measures that make Malaysia more open and democratic – an effort which began during the leadership of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and which the Prime Minister is continuing. But our efforts cannot stop; UMNO and BN is the true party that fights for good governance and against corruption. The party that protects human rights and champions the civil society agenda. This is the political reality of today. Though in the past we may have thought we cannot live peacefully without the ISA, today we have proven otherwise. Thus, UMNO Youth advocates that the government continue this political transformation so that the younger generation does not have to look elsewhere for political reform. When young people think of change, we want them to believe that BN is the ultimate choice. BN is the party that fights for integrity, transparency, freedom and justice since the beginning and for all time[4]

31. If today our main focus is GE13, after the General Elections, we must double our efforts to train and sharpen the talents of young leaders. In this context, speaking of training and education, UMNO Youth is aware that the contents of our political curriculum must jive with the challenges and landscape of today’s politics. What is the point of looking for a thousand potential leaders of tomorrow if today they are taught obsolete political content?

Does the political transformation which Khairy advocated for in the above passages include gangsterism and threats of arson? Is this part of the political curriculum which is being taught in the UMNO Youth Academy?

While the DAP respects and upholds the right of any group to hold a peaceful assembly anywhere in Malaysia, including outside the DAP Headquarters, we condemn any actions or words which threaten and inflicts physical violence to both property and persons. We hope that the UMNO Youth Chief can provide a good example to the youth people of Malaysia by publicly apologizing for and condemning the actions and words of his UMNO Youth KLFT colleagues in threatening to burn down the DAP Headquarters and behaving like gangsters.

Appendix 1: Private “Apology” of Khairy Jamaluddin to me

[1] http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/264493

[2] http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/263671

[3] http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/05/23/Khairy-Ong-Kian-Meng-apology-rejected/

[4] http://www.nst.com.my/nation/umno/speech-by-umno-youth-s-khairy-jamaluddin-1.177903