Guan Eng slams Umno sec-gen over “derogatory” PhD remarks

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DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has chastised Umno’s Ahmad Maslan for implying that only the highly educated would understand the imminent need for a snap general election.

Yesterday, the Umno secretary-general defended the call for the 15th general election to be held in the first quarter of 2021, pointing to Perikatan Nasional’s razor-thin majority in the Dewan Rakyat as the primary reason.

Speaking at an event streamed on Umno Online’s Facebook page yesterday, Ahmad pointed out that many countries had managed to hold general elections amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

In making his point, he had questioned the education credentials of a certain coconut grater who was featured on television expressing disagreement with holding GE15 due to Covid-19.

“We need a general election because this government has the smallest majority in the world. There are 222 parliament seats, and you need a minimum of 112 seats to become the government. The Malaysian government right now only has 112 seats, do you realise this?

“I think the coconut grater (who was interviewed for the programme) did not realise this. The person was interviewed as a voice from the grassroots, and I don’t know if they graduated from high school or not.

Raja Faisal Hishan/The Star

“If they were from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) or had a PhD, then I think they would have commented on the issue more accurately,” Ahmad remarked.

He did not specify which television programme he was referring to, admitting he was unsure if Astro Awani or TV3 had aired it.

In a statement today, Lim took offence with the Pontian MP’s comment.

“Ahmad Maslan’s derogatory remarks against an ordinary worker who opposed Umno’s call for early general elections because of Covid-19 shows how disconnected PN leaders are from the suffering of the ordinary rakyat.

“Ahmad arrogantly stated that only educated people with PhDs will understand the necessity of early general elections,” he said.

“It is highly irresponsible for Umno leaders to call for early general elections in the midst of the greatest crisis in the country’s history,” Lim added.

Umno’s GE15 call comes as Covid-19 cases and deaths have hit record highs. Floods have also hit many parts of the country.

The call also comes as Umno engages in open dissent with Bersatu, with a majority of its grassroots opposed to working with the Umno splinter party.

As an alternative solution to resolving the present political instability, Lim proposed that PN call for an emergency parliamentary sitting plus meet with “all political parties”.

“Malaysians are sick and tired of the endless politicking by PN and want the permanent political crisis in the government to end […]

“The time has come for the PN government to hold meetings with all political parties to discuss the Covid-19 public health crisis.

“An emergency parliamentary meeting is the best avenue to rally public support and forge a national unity to enable Malaysians to come together to overcome Covid-19 together,” he said.

The next Dewan Rakyat sitting is not scheduled to start until March 8, 2021.