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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Shafie tells of true democracy in US, UK, unlike in Umno

KUALA LUMPUR - Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal accused his party today of not practising “true” democracy like that found in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Semporna MP, dropped in a federal Cabinet reshuffle in the middle of last year together with party deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said the top leadership believed that Umno was democratic, but said the grassroots realised that they were pressured not to speak up.

“This does not exist in political parties overseas,” Shafie said in a statement.

“There is no voice that goes unheard in the House of Commons in Britain, there is no anxiety on the faces of Americans in expressing their opinions. They understand the true meaning of ‘democracy’.

“Countries that have a mature and thriving democracy understand the importance in giving whichever party member or leader the freedom to take a different stance from the leadership. We see various stands in many core issues in democratic countries, what more in issues that involve the integrity of leaders,” he added.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said recently that he would push for Muhyiddin’s suspension at the next party supreme council meeting if the latter continued to attack Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is party president and prime minister.

Muhyiddin has challenged Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to take action against him for criticising the leadership of the ruling party, saying that he only had the party's interests at heart.

Shafie defended Muhyiddin, saying that his colleague’s criticism of the government and Umno was not intended to weaken the party leadership, much less to bring down the Malay nationalist party or the government.

Instead, he said it was to point out that the party and government were far more important than certain individuals.

“Yes, I love my party, but I love the country above all else. The sovereignty and peace of the country are far more important than any individual or certain leaders.

“I regret the denial syndrome, where some parties believe that if a party member admonishes or criticises leaders, they will be perceived as being disloyal to the party. In fact, there are even some individuals who label them as traitors to the party or who liken them to pesky dogs,” said the former minister.

Shafie and Muhyiddin were removed respectively as rural and regional development minister, and deputy prime minister ostensibly over their criticism of the government’s handling of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad controversy.

Muhyiddin was later barred from addressing delegates at the 69th Umno general assembly last year, despite having done so throughout his tenure as its deputy president.

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