Nazri called up by police, denies wanting vernacular schools to be shut down

Malaysia's former tourism minister Nazri Aziz, who is also Barisan Nasional's secretary-general, said a police report was lodged after a video of his speech, where he appeared to call for the abolition of vernacular schools, went viral.
Malaysia's former tourism minister Nazri Aziz, who is also Barisan Nasional's secretary-general, said a police report was lodged after a video of his speech, where he appeared to call for the abolition of vernacular schools, went viral.PHOTO: ST FILE

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's former tourism minister Nazri Aziz said he was called up by the police on Monday (Feb 25) over his campaign speech in Semenyih.

The opposition MP, who is also Barisan Nasional's secretary-general, said a police report was lodged after a video of his speech, where he appeared to call for the abolition of vernacular schools, went viral.

"There is a police report against me and I have given my statement," said Datuk Seri Nazri.

In his campaign speech on Sunday, he reportedly questioned the appointment of non-Muslims to the posts of Attorney General, Chief Justice and Finance Minister, seeing it as a threat to Malay special rights.

He also reportedly warned non-bumiputeras not to question Malay special rights, using vernacular schools as an example of the special rights given to non-Malays.

"I want to tell them (non-bumis) if they fight for Malay privilege to be abolished, then I want to ask for the Chinese schools and Tamil schools to be abolished.

"Only then it is fair. There is no way only one race sacrifices; every race has to sacrifice," he was quoted as saying.

As his speech received backlash, Mr Nazri called for a press conference on Monday, strongly denying that he wanted vernacular schools to be shut down. He said such allegations were a ploy to turn voters against Barisan in the Semenyih by-election.

"In my speech, I said if non-bumiputeras argue (against) bumiputera rights, then bumiputeras will also argue (against) non-bumi rights, including their right to vernacular education," he said.

Mr Nazri said he was using the call to shut down vernacular schools as an example, and he was not advocating the abolition of vernacular schools.

"Vernacular education is something protected by the Constitution and cannot be disputed, including calls for abolition; these calls cannot be entertained.

"My point is don't argue (over) our rights. We need to respect (each other)," he said.

"If I wanted to (abolish vernacular schools), I would have done it during my tenure as minister for 18 years," he added, saying that he had a record of defending non-Malays.

When asked about his controversial 2013 spat with the Chin Woo school, Mr Nazri said it was a land issue.

"They encroached onto government land so we had to ask them to leave," he said.

Also present at the press conference were leaders from Kongres Indian Muslim Malaysia, Barisan Kemajuan India Se-Malaysia and Malaysia Makkal Sakti Party.