Ahmad Ismail


Ahmad Ismail

Infobox_Politician
honorific-prefix = Datuk
name = Ahmad Ismail


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birth_date = 1955
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office2 = Chief of UMNO Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill)
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party = flagicon|Malaysia UMNO-BN
religion = Sunni Islam
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Datuk Ahmad Ismail (born 1955cite news|date=2008-09-10 | url= http://www.sun2surf.com/article.cfm?id=25544 | title = Man of controversy | work = Himanshu Bhatt | publisher="Sun2Surf" | quote = | accessdate=2008-09-10] ), is a Malaysian politician and a member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), serving as the chief of UMNO's Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill) division in the state of Penang, where he was raised in a family of contractors.

Ahmad Ismail is known for controversial actions and remarks made in the fields of politics, business and sports, including the latest controversy in which he utters incendiary remarks about the Chinese community during and after the Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008. On September 2008, ahmad was suspended by UMNO as a result.

Political career

Since joining UMNO in 1974, Ahmad Ismail served as the party's Bukit Bendera division chief for 20 years, during which all legislative seats in the Bukit Bendera constituency have been contested by only Gerakan and MCA.cite news|date=2008-09-10 | url= http://www.sun2surf.com/article.cfm?id=25544 | title = Man of controversy | work = Himanshu Bhatt | publisher="Sun2Surf" | quote = | accessdate=2008-09-10] Ahmad was further awarded two Datukships by the Penang government — the "Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri" in 1996, and the "Darjah Mulia Pangkuan Negeri" in 2002.

Councillor on the Penang Municipal Council

Ahmad Ismail was appointed as a councillor on the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) in 2002 , and was further appointed by the MPPP as the alternate chairman of the Building and Planning Committee in February 2003. The latter was criticised by then Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Lim Kit Siang, who claimed the move was "outrageous" and labelled Ahmad Penang's "Super Councillor", added the government showed "utter contempt [...] for the legitimate objections and sensitivities of Penangites who are opposed to the [Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR)] project for violating the principles of good urban governance". In May 2006, Ahmad was removed as councillor in May 2006 when he was declared bankrupt by the Insolvency Department. While Ahmad was reinstated after obtaining a stay of execution of the bankruptcy order, Ahmad was forced to relinquish his position as he had served the maximum term of four years.

Accusations of racism

"Chinese as squatters" remark

In late August 2008, Ahmad Ismail was highlighted over racist remarks uttered during campaigning in a by-election in Permatang Pauh that primarily pitted Barisan Nasional candidate Arif Shah Omar Shah (UMNO) against Pakatan Rakyat candidate Anwar Ibrahim (PKR) for the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat.

On August 25, 2008 local Chinese daily "Sin Chew Daily" reported a speech made by Ahmad Ismail on the evening of August 23, 2008 at Kampung Pelet to campaign for Arif Shah, in which he allegedly stated Malaysian Chinese were "immigrants" and "squatters", and could not have equal rights.cite news|date=2008-09-09 | url=http://in.news.yahoo.com/137/20080910/362/twl-malaysia-ruling-party-suspends-offic_1.html| title=Malaysia ruling party suspends official in race row | work=Reuters | publisher=Yahoo! News | quote = | accessdate=2008-09-10] In a September 6 statement by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, Ahmad was quoted that he merely uttered the remark based on historical facts and claimed it was not a racist statement as reported by "Sin Chew Daily", accusing the paper of misinterpreting him.cite news|date=2008-09-06 | url=http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/9/6/nation/20080906213834 | title=PM: Don't create tension among races | work = | publisher = "The Star" Online | quote = | accessdate=2008-10-10]

Despite criticism of his remark in the by-election and expressing regret that it resulted in controversy, Ahmad remained defiant and refused to apologise. In a further outburst during a press conference on September 8, Ahmad seditiously warned the Chinese community not to seek political power:cite news|date=2008-09-09 |url=http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080909/wl_asia_afp/malaysiapoliticsrace_080909145027| title=Malaysia faces race row over 'anti-Chinese' comments | work = Agence France-Presse | publisher = Yahoo! News | quote = | accessdate=2008-09-10] cite news|date = 2008-09-09 |url = http://news.my.msn.com/regional/article.aspx?cp-documentid=1667156 | title = Malaysia faces race row over 'anti-Chinese' comments | work = Agence France-Presse | publisher = MSN Malaysia News | quote = | accessdate=2008-10-10] cite news|date = 2008-09-09 |url = http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/SE%2BAsia/Story/STIStory_276781.html | title = Official to be punished | work = | publisher = The Straits Times | quote = | accessdate=2008-10-10]

"The patience of the Malays and Muslims has a limit. Do not push us to the wall, as when we turn back we will be forced to push the Chinese in the interests of our own survival [...] The Chinese should not try to be like the Jews in America. It is not enough they control the economy, now they want political control."

Following a meeting with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi on September 9,cite news|date = 2008-09-09 |url = http://www.utusan.com.my/utusan/arkib.asp?y=2008&dt=0909&pub=utusan_malaysia&sec=terkini&pg=bt_10.htm&arc=hive | title = Ahmad Ismail jumpa PM di Putrajaya ms icon | work = | publisher = Utusan Malaysia | quote = "Ketua UMNO Bahagian Bukit Bendera, Datuk Ahmad Ismail tiba di pejabat Perdana Menteri di sini pukul 12.50 tengah hari ini untuk mengadakan pertemuan dengan Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. [...] Beliau dipanggil oleh Perdana Menteri untuk memberi penjelasan mengenai tindak-tanduknya selepas satu ucapannya berhubung kedudukan orang Cina sebelum merdeka menimbulkan keretakan politik Barisan Nasional (BN)."| accessdate=2008-10-10] Ahmad would later be quoted in stating Malays were "frustrated" and that Malay "dignity" was at stake, remaining convinced that he is more nationalistic defending the Malays rather than being racist:

"Half the Chinese say I'm a racist but most Malays say I'm a nationalist defending my race [...] What I see now is a rise of the Malay people, and I feel we should capitalise on the strength, the support we get from the Malay people... I know they are with me."

Reaction

Revelations of Ahmad Ismail's comments during and after the by-election drew widespread criticism predominantly from the Chinese community. On August 27, the youth wing of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) demanded an apology from Ahmad, with secretary-general Wee Ka Siong stating Ahmad had angered the Chinese as well as other non-Malay communities; Wee had also received numerous complaints from the Chinese community in the past two days.cite news|date = 2008-09-09 |url = http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/27/nation/20080827152034 | title = MCA Youth want apology from Umno chief for racist statement | work = Sim Leoi Leoi | publisher = "The Star" Online | quote = | accessdate = 2008-10-10] On September 9, Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon announced Penang Gerakan has dissociated itself from UMNO's Penang branch, holding leaders of Penang UMNO accountable for failing to condemn Ahmad's conduct:cite news|date = 2008-09-09 |url = http://www.malaysiatoday.com/Latest-News/we-no-longer-want-to-be-associated-with-penang-umno-dr-koh.html | title = We no longer want to be associated with Penang Umno - Dr Koh | work = Zen | publisher = Malaysia Today | quote = | accessdate = 2008-10-10]

"We no longer want to be associated with Penang UMNO. We condemned the statement and irresponsible behaviour by Ahmad and his supporters. We are also extremely disappointed and saddened by the fact that many Penang UMNO leaders were present and condoned such irresponsible and insensitive statement and behaviour. He had twisted and turned a personal mistake into a conflict and crisis among BN component parties and the communities."

Views among members of UMNO were less conclusive. Following revelations of Ahmad's comments in the by-election, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi stated party leaders expressed "regret and anger" over Ahmad Ismail's remark, as UMNO considered actions to be taken against Ahmad. Former Law Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad voiced similar views that Ahmad Ismail has be held accountable for his remarks and issue an apology.cite news|date = 2008-09-06 |url = http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/9/6/nation/20080906143533 | title = No harm in saying sorry: Nazri | work = V. P. Sujata | publisher = "The Star" Online | quote = | accessdate = 2008-10-10] In a September 6 report published by "Utusan Malaysia", Muhammad Muhammad Taib reiterated Ahamd's defense, asking the public, especially politicians, not to put forward baseless accusations against Ahmad, claiming his remarks could merely be used in the context of history rather than politics.cite news|date = 2008-09-06 |url = http://beritamalaysiakini.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/jangan-buat-tuduhan-melulu-terhadap-ahmad-kata-muhammad-taib-utusan/ | title = Jangan buat tuduhan melulu terhadap Ahmad, kata Muhammad Taib - Utusan ms icon | work = Utusan Malaysia | publisher = Berita Malaysia Kini | quote = | accessdate = 2008-10-10]

On September 10, 2008, Ahmad was eventually suspended from UMNO for three years [cite news| url=http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsindex.php?id=358360|title=Ahmad Accepts Umno Supreme Council's Decision|date=10 September 2008 |publisher=Bernama|accessdate=2008-09-10]

Business

In 1995, Peninsular Metroworks h:title|Private Limited|Sdn Bhd| was founded with Ahmad Ismail as its executive chairman.The company was a special purpose vehicle, intended to receive concession to develop the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR), a project which was subsequently delayed by the federal government in 2008 following the 2008 general election. Additionally, a majority stake in Peninsular Metroworks was indirectly linked to Ahmad Ismail: A 55% stake in the company was held in its early years by Nadi Senandung Sdn Bhd, which Ahmad was the director of; the remaining 45% was held by Setegap Bhd and Kumpulan Pinang Holdings Sdn Bhd, the latter a full subsidiary of Yayasan Bumiputra Pulau Pinang h:title|Limited|Bhd|.

Ahmad Ismail was also the director of Popular Profile Sdn Bhd, which the Penang Development Corporation believed had wrongfully taken and kept RM500,000 from the state in a botched land transaction for Bukit Minyak in 1998, before winding up in 2005; Ahmad was believed to have to have cut links with the company in 1998.cite news|date = 2008-09-03 |url = http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/9/3/nation/20080903173006 | title = PDC lodges report against Ahmad and former company | work = Andrea FilmerANDREA FILMER | publisher = "The Star" Online | quote = | accessdate = 2008-10-10] A police report was lodged by Penang Development Corporation on the September 3, 2008.

Sports

In addition to interests in politics and business, Ahmad Ismail was also the president of the Malaysian Sepak Takraw Association. During the 2007 Southeast Asian Games in Korat, Thailand, Ahmad led the pullout of Malaysia's sepak takraw team at the last minute, claiming the game's new rubber-coated ball to replace the pure rattan one was unsafe for players and that it had inconsistent bounce. The International Sepak Takraw Federation proceeded to suspend Ahmad as its member and deputy president and the Malaysian Sepak Takraw Association as its affiliate, on grounds that he tried to influence some member countries to leave the International Sepak Takraw Federation.

References


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