The Ipoh High Court says the four had been convicted under a different section, and that the case did not warrant retrial.
The Ipoh Barat MP said in a statement today that Zahid’s recent challenge against him proved that the leader still failed to understand the “injustice” of associating patriotism with the reluctance of non-Malays to join the military.
Last Sunday, Zahid had reportedly challenged Kulasegaran to prove his patriotism as a non-Malay by joining the Ipoh Barat territorial army.
“It is because of the lack of necessary action from the Cabinet that Zahid has even on November 14 challenged me to join the territorial army in Ipoh Barat constituency to prove my patriotism.
“Let me tell Zahid that I don’t have to prove my patriotism by joining the army. Neither should anyone be challenged to prove his patriotism or to prove it by joining the army.
“By making such a challenge, it shows that Ahmad Zahid still maintains the view that joining the army has to do with one’s sense of patriotism,” he said.
Kulasegaran added that it was “puzzling and disappointing” that the Cabinet had not directed Zahid to tender and open apology and retract his statement against the non-Malays, which he claimed had hurt the community’s feelings.
“Zahid is no ordinary person but a Cabinet Minister in charge of the Defence Ministry. And he gave the reply in the august Parliament House.
“If a defence minister of a western democratic nation has uttered such unfair remarks publicly or in the parliament, he will have to pay the price of losing his minister’s position,” he said.
When replying to a question from Setiu MP Datuk Mohd Jidin Shafee during Question Time in Parliament recently, Zahid had said that there were only 903 non-Malays in the Malaysian Armed Forces who had joined the service within the last two years, attributing the poor presence to their “low spirit of patriotism”.
The remark had a sparked off much criticism from politicians across the political divide who accused the leader of being insensitive and unfair to the non-Malay community.
Kulasegaran had also recently gave notice to Parliament on a motion to censure Zahid with a RM10 salary cut as punishment for his remarks.
Zahid however clarified his statement later and said that he had not made accused the non-Malays of being unpatriotic.
“What I had said was that it was possible that it could be due to several factors, including the sense of patriotism that is not strong enough,” he was quoted as saying.
Kulasegaran however said that the clarification still showed Zahid’s failure to understand that a person’s decision to join the military was nothing to do with patriotism.
“I stated that no matter how one defines or looks at patriotism, whether in the narrow or broad sense and context, it is totally unfair and irresponsible to link it with the non-Malays’ reluctance to join the army.
“Hence, instead of trying to indulge in polemics, he should have been bold and responsible enough to admit his mistake and sincerely apologise to the non Malays,” he said.
In a Cabinet meeting last week, a gag order was issued on all ministers, prohibiting them from arguing openly about the patriotism of non-Malays pertaining to their low presence in the armed forces.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon had told reporters last week that the order had come under the advice of the Prime Minister.
“We have taken a stand as the Cabinet and the PM had advised us that no more, all rhetoric and arguments in the open. Do work to show that we’re sincere in wanting the armed forces to be better represented,” he had reportedly said.
Kulasegaran however questioned why the Cabinet had failed to issue and official statement on its stand on the matter and had not directed Zahid to retract his remarks and apologise to the non-Malays.
“Let me today ask Zahid another question-will he challenge the prime minister or the non Malays to join the Territorial Army to prove their patriotism?
“Nevertheless, if Zahid still insists on his ridiculous and irrational challenge, then my reply to him is that he should first throw the same challenge to the prime minister and all Cabinet ministers,” he said.