KUALA LUMPUR: Former information minister Zainuddin Maidin cited the split with Singapore in making his point in a column yesterday that it was important to learn lessons from the past.
In the column, published a day after Malaysia's 52nd National Day, he said former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had to throw Singapore out of Malaysia because it was a 'thorn in our flesh'.
Datuk Zainuddin's article in the Utusan Malaysia newspaper referred at length to 'the special position of Malays and Islam and other sensitive issues that Mr Lee Kuan Yew disputed then'.
'The main reason Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman decided to kick Singapore out of Malaysia was the speech made by its then Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, in the Malaysian Parliament in May 1965 questioning the Malay government in Malaysia,' he wrote.
He added that similar controversies are resurfacing, alluding to concerns among Umno leaders that Malaysian minorities are questioning the position of Malays and Islam.
Mr Zainuddin was formerly the chief editor of Utusan, a newspaper owned by Umno. He was information minister during the premiership of Tun Abdullah Badawi.
'The special position of Malays and Islam and the other sensitive issues that Lee Kuan Yew disputed then, causing the outbreak of the May 13th incident, have again become the subject of hot debate following incidents involving the dumping of a cow's head by protesters that challenged the Hindus, and the wrapping of a pig in the Umno flag that challenged the Malays,' he wrote.
The May 13 incident he referred to was the race riots of 1969. And last Friday, a group of Malays protested against the relocation of a Hindu temple in Selangor by stomping on the severed head of a cow, an animal sacred to Hindus.
It was not clear what incident he was referring to when a pig was wrapped in an Umno flag.
Wrote Mr Zainuddin: 'If 50 years of independence have given a deeper understanding of the poison sowed by Kuan Yew 40 years ago, the recent events mentioned would not have occurred.'
He added that although Singapore is more advanced than Malaysia, the Republic does not enjoy the same freedom: 'Singapore sticks to a Third World democracy despite having a developed world mentality, while Malaysia has a Third World mentality but a developed world democracy.'
[Comment: If you have a first class government, it doesn't matter what kind of democracy you have. If you have a third class government, even a first class democracy can't help. And if your government is corrupt, it completely undermines your democracy.]