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Thursday December 1, 2005

Pak Lah: Noh statement totally against Government's policy on visitors

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has reprimanded Datuk Noh Omar for his remarks that foreigners and visitors should go home if they thought the Malaysian police were cruel. 

Abdullah, who is also the Internal Security Minister, said the remarks by his deputy minister were “highly inappropriate”. 

“His statement is totally against the government's policy and stand on foreign visitors and tourists, where we welcome all of them whether to holiday, study, seek medical treatment or to do business here. 

“Members of the Government should be more sensitive and careful when making any statement in connection with this issue. 

DAMAGE CONTROL: Noh taking questions from reporters at the Parliament lobby Wednesday.
“I have reprimanded Datuk Noh Omar on this matter,” the Prime Minister told Bernama. 

Noh was reported to have made the remark at a press conference at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday when asked about the video clip featuring a woman, believed to be a Chinese national, doing ear squats in the nude while in police custody. 

However, yesterday morning he called for a press conference where he denied making the statement, but at the same time offered an apology. 

“I deny saying that if they (foreigners) don’t like it, they can go back. That is not right. If there is such a quote, it might have been misinterpreted.” 

He apologised if the reported statement had offended anyone. 

”There are many foreigners who come in as tourists and overstay.  

“If they found the police to be cruel and the country unsafe, surely they would have gone back a long time ago. That was what I meant,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday. 

Expressing regret over the matter, he said that if he wanted to make a statement, he would certainly want to give a positive image of the country. 

''I would want to indicate that it was a safe place and that the police lock-up incident was an isolated case,'' he added. 

Earlier, MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai had called for Noh to clarify his statement, saying that he should retract the statement if he had made it.  

Liow also said that the police were not above the law and that they should abide by procedures when carrying out their duties. 

He said action should be taken against those who abuse their powers and that it was very obvious that there had been abuse of power when a woman was asked to strip at the lock-up. 

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang said the Prime Minister’s reprimand was insufficient. 

He said Noh should retract his statement, apologise and be suspended or sacked. 

“His explanation saying that the press had misunderstood him is unacceptable.  

“Nobody misunderstood him. It’s very clear what he meant and what he said has undermined not only the Prime Minister’s efforts (policy of not profiling and of welcoming foreigners) but was also detrimental to national interests,” he told reporters.  

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