(Disiarkan dalam the Star. June 17, 1997)
Johor Baru: Tue. June 17
THE leaders of seven Umno Youth divisions in Johor have voiced their objections to the apology made to Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew by the movement's chief Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The seven leaders are Mohd Abdul Latif Endot of the Johor Baru division, Zulkifli Sulaiman (Senai), Jamil Amin (Sg Benut), Dr Nasrah Salim (Kluang), Zaid Mohd Yusof (Batu Pahat), Abu Bakar Babu (Labis) and Mohd Ismail Mohd Shah (Muar).
Spokesman for the six, Abdul Latif, said the apology by Ahmad Zahid, which was made during a visit to Singapore last week, did not reflect the wishes of the divisions.
"We regret the action of the Umno Youth chief and wish to state that his actions do not reflect how we, at the state level, feel about the issue.
"As far as we are concerned, there was no need for an apology, be it a personal one by the movement's chief or one made on behalf of the movement," Latif said in a press statement.
Last week, Singapore newspapers quoted Zahid as saying that he wanted to apologise personally to Lee for certain harsh words used during a demonstration by Johor Umno Youth at the height of a diplomatic row between the two countries.
When contacted, Latif said while the divisions supported efforts to normalise relations with Singapore, they felt that Zahid's apology was needless as the movement had not done anything wrong.
"It must be remembered that the demonstration was carried out at a time when emotions were very high and Lee had yet to make his apology.
"The main point is that Umno Youth members stood up for their state and there is definitely nothing to apologise for in that," Abdul Latif said.
Peristiwa Zahid meminta maaf kepada LKY ini telah melukakan hati Mahathir pada masa itu.
Akibat kesilapan Zahid tersebut Mahathir tidak melantik Zahid memegang sebarang jawatan dalam kabinet walaupun beliau merupakan Ketua Pemuda UMNO.
Kepimpinan hari ini harus berhati-hati dengan putar-belit media Singapura kerana mereka dikawal penuh oleh Lee Kuan Yew.
Hari ini Zahid adalah Menteri Pertahanan, salah sebuah Kementerian yang penting kepada Singapura selain dari Kementerian Hishamudin, Kementerian Dalam Negeri kerana Mas Selamat sedang di tahan di bawah KDN.