GEORGETOWN, May 22 – After hours of heated argument and outbursts in the Penang legislative assembly today, the “Umno celaka” (Umno be damned) issue came to a conclusion of sorts this afternoon. Both sides had initially refused to cave in. DAP’s Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer refused to apologise for using the derogatory term against Umno, while the Barisan Nasional representatives also refused to apologise after Umno Youth members disrupted proceedings in the house yesterday.

Finally, opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid apologised over the action of a group of Umno members, who trespassed into the state legislative assembly building and created a ruckus. “It is wrong to break the rules. We are ready to apologise. “To settle this problem in the house, we admit that a lot of wrong had been done, especially with the intrusion (by the group). That was clear from the start. “But it is also wrong to use foul words, isn’t it? That is why we ask Rayer to apologise,” she said.

Muhammad Farid Saad (BN-Pulau Betong) supported her call, saying even the protesters had apologised yesterday. He said the apology was made when three representatives met with Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang, members of the exco and several BN reps yesterday behind closed doors. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Air Putih) said if Jahara apologised, then BN backbenchers should also support his emergency motion to condemn the protest and intrusion at the assembly. Lim, however, ignored calls for Rayer to apologise for his remark. Earlier, Lim in his winding up speech on the motion said Umno suffered from a disease that needed to be cured.

He said Umno assumed that Malays who did not support the party and “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay supremacy) were traitors. “This has manifested itself in the Teluk Intan by-election where our candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud has been abused verbally and harassed by thugs. “Here, the opposition leader tells us to consider the cause but can the cause lead to people committing a crime?” he asked, countering the call from BN reps that Rayer must apologise. Yesterday, the state legislative assembly was disrupted after a group of Umno Youth members stormed the building in Lebuh Light, demanding to see Rayer.

Some 10 people slipped past security and went into the building in search of Rayer. Rayer was not present and they created a ruckus in the house. They were escorted out 10 minutes later. When the house passed the motion today, 27 Pakatan Rakyat reps supported it while the nine BN reps who were present objected. Jahara and Datuk Mahmud Zakaria (BN-Sungai Acheh) said they disagreed as long as Rayer was not asked to apologise. Later, Jahara said they were disappointed that PR would not admit its mistake but only focused on the wrong committed by others.

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