By Leslie Lau
The Malaysian Insider
If racial tensions have risen in the past few weeks, the blame should lay squarely with him because he is the good man who did nothing while Datuk Ahmad Ismail postured and capitulated himself from an unknown regional politician to the national stage by standing up to his party president.
But it is not just Umno politicians he has failed to keep in line.
He also allowed anger to mount among Chinese parties in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, to the stage where both the MCA and Gerakan are facing pressure from within to pull out of BN.
Now he is asking everyone to cool it. He says it is the collective responsibility of all Malaysians to preserve racial harmony.
But that is not likely to end the debate.
The man who says he is the prime minister of all Malaysians is finding it difficult now to really be one.
He is now stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Stuck between the pressure of staying in power in Umno, and the reality that most non-Malays in this country perceive Umno to be racist.
When Ahmad, the Bukit Bendera Umno chief, said that Chinese were squatters in this country, it merely reinforced the view among the non-Malays of the feeling that Umno is racist.
Regardless of the facts, that is the perception among many non-Malays.
That is why so many voted against the BN coalition. They abandoned support for MCA, Gerakan, and MIC and placed their faith in the hands of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), which while trying to portray a multiracial front, is also a Malay dominated front.
Chinese, Indian and other non-Malay voters would rather place their faith in an alliance which included PAS, a party whose avowed mission is to form an Islamic theocracy, than in an Umno-led BN.
Perhaps what Abdullah should consider is that significant number of Malays are also choosing to vote for PR parties, including the DAP, a party whose secular aims include the removal of affirmative action for Malays.
The significant Malay support for the opposition could perhaps explain why race relations among ordinary Malaysians is still relatively comfortable.
After all, few took the bait when students from UiTM rallied against a proposal from the Selangor Mentri Besar for their university to be open to non-Malays.
And so far, the Chinese squatter debate has been confined to a fierce quarrel between Umno, MCA and Gerakan.
Even former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad realised his mistake when he initially appeared to support Ahmad's position in refusing to apologise. He must have read some of the responses on his blog from Malays who expressed disappointment with him.
The next day Dr Mahathir wrote that what he meant was that Umno leaders should not apologise on Ahmad's behalf. Dr Mahathir said that he did not like what Ahmad said and that the politician should face action.
Ultimately, Abdullah has made Ahmad a hero for all those who want him to resign earlier than later as Prime Minister.
He has also made it very difficult for BN to start the difficult task of regaining the votes they have lost to the Pakatan Rakyat.
Source: The Malaysian Insider