GEORGE TOWN: Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi has openly apologised for labelling Penang Municipal Council’s lower-ranking officers as kucing kurap (people of no significance) a fortnight ago, though his apology came across as half-hearted.
Ooi uttered his apology after DAP national chairman Karpal Singh urged him to do so during the latter’s speech at the state DAP ordinary convention here yesterday.
Looking composed and solemn, Ooi went on stage after Karpal’s speech, and stunned everyone for a moment when he started with: “I will not apologise.”
He took a pause and continued, “I will not apologise but when Karpal Singh tells me to do so, I will follow.”
After the applause died down, Ooi continued, “I can’t retract (the remark) as it has already been uttered. I sincerely apologise if it hurt the people’s feelings. Thank you very much.”
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, in his speech after Ooi’s apology, reprimanded the latter for not toeing the line on party leadership and discipline.
Lim said he could sense that state DAP chairman Chow Kon Yeow was upset, and he himself was upset too, when Ooi said he only listened to Karpal.
“It’s very rare for me to reprimand (someone). I hope he will repent. He must not listen to Karpal only.
“Since he has apologised, we accept it but I hope he can respect party leaders.
“We are still saudara (comrades) and friends,” said Lim, who is also Penang Chief Minister.
On Saturday, Opposition leader and PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also said Ooi should apologise.
Ooi had made the kucing kurap remark on Nov 16, when he lashed out at the council for sending lower-ranking officers, who were unable to provide statistics that he asked for, to his press conference during a site visit to the Jelutong Market.
On Wednesday, more than 2,000 members of four workers’ unions demanded that Ooi apologise and retract the remark.
Meanwhile, Amalgamated National Union of Local Authority Employees (Anulae) Penang branch president Saleem Sulaiman said they accepted Ooi’s apology.
“As an elected representative, he should be polite to us. He is elected by the people and we, the working staff, are chosen by the council.
“All of us are the same. He should not differentiate himself as an MP from working staff like us. All of us are equal, all are humans.
“It is good that he has apologised. We hope he does not repeat it,” he said.