PETALING JAYA: The Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) has expressed concerns over Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali's call for the bumiputra agenda to be fulfilled "without feeling apologetic" following the Semenyih by-election.
Cenbet vice president Datuk Simon Lim said Azmin's message right on the heels of the by-election showed that such rhetoric would continue in the upcoming Rantau by-election.
"The tone of Azmin's message and the speed at which it was issued raise prospects that the upcoming Rantau by-election will see heightened posturing of this sort.
"Political leaders should avoid knee-jerk reactions over the results of by-elections. Instead they should focus on long-term national interests.
"There is no room for narrow communal posturing that harms the fabric that holds this diverse nation together," he said in a statement on Tuesday (March 5).
On March 2, Azmin issued a statement saying that the by-election was a clear message from the rakyat and that the Pakatan government must resolve their problems.
"Pakatan must be brave and not be hesitant in fulfilling its promises, especially on the Malay and bumiputra agenda, which is an integral part of the national agenda.
"We must do so without feeling apologetic or be fearful of criticism from others," he had said.
Lim urged the government to steer clear of racial and religious sentiments and focus instead on rebuilding the nation.
He cited Pakatan Harapan's manifesto pledge to create a Malaysia that was "inclusive, moderate and respected globally".
"The current administration should stick to the letter and spirit of the promise.
"It should also learn from the mistakes of its predecessor whose overt racial and religious pandering was a put-off to voters, resulting in the coalition getting the boot in the last general election.
"Voters, especially minorities, who bought into Pakatan's pledge for reforms are increasingly frustrated and disappointed by the ruling coalition's pandering to right-wing groups bent on dividing Malaysians," he said.