PEMUDA Umno chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has apologised for his keris-wielding and keris-kissing incident at the party annual assembly of 2005 and 2006. The act had upset many non-Malays who viewed the act as provocative and unfriendly.
I'm not sure how the non-Malays view the apology but some of Hishammuddin's comrades in Umno questioned why the Pemuda chief had thought it necessary to offer the apology.
Soon after news of the apology was splashed on television and newspaper pages, many SMS started to fly: "Why? Why make the apology? It's not going to change anything. The act has already caused much damaged and we saw how this was manifested in the March 8 general election.
"It's a bit late in the day."
An Umno divisional leader said the apology made many party members unhappy. They said the Pemuda chief should instead explain to everyone that keris-kissing is not an act of provocation, unless the person doing it had that in mind.
The keris is a symbol of authority among the Malays. Hishammuddin's act of kissing the keris by itself was not an act of provocation, but when accompanied by fiery rhetorics and inflammatory statements, anyone would view it differently.
While the non-Malays still don't like his keris-kissing act (apology notwithstanding), Hishammuddin now finds his Umno comrades are just as unhappy for making the apology. When he first did it in 2005, there were already criticisms. When this was repeated, the criticisms became more vocal and widespread.
More than a symbol of authority, the keris represents sovereignty, especially in the royal palace. I'm sure we all remember the way His Majesty the King showed his respect of the keris when he was installed as the Yang DiPertuan Agong. It was an act of respect and done with much dignity.
If Hishammuddin had done it the same way, he wouldn't have been criticised the way he did. It's unfortunate. An SMS I received today lamented at the fact that a ritual that's so 'malay' and done within a Malay environment could be heatedly criticised.
Its quite ironical. While Hishammuddin apologised and tried to assuage the feelings of non-Malays, he came under fire from his party comrades instead. Another SMS, from a Johor grassroot leaders, with a tone that suggests disgust and disappointment, questioned whether Hishammuddin is worthy to be voted as an Umno vice-president.
Hishammuddin had already declared his willingness to be nominated to contest for one of the three VP posts in the December party poll. He will have to see whether the apology would have any serious bearing on his bid.
There was another apology that also made its way into the pages of most newspapers. His deputy, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin, received an apology from news portal Malaysiakini.
This followed news report by the portal which reported that Khairy had initially lost in the contest against PKR candidate Badrul Hisham Shaharin during the general election. The portal had also reported that a recount was held to determine the winner.
In the apology, Malaysiakini said: "We have come to know that such a recount did not take place. As such, we would like to apologise to Khairy for publishing that assertion in our subsequent stories."
Khairy's contest with blogger Cikgu Bard came under the spotlight right from the beginning. The PM's son in law won with a majority of 5,726 votes. His opponent meanwhile has filed an election petition at the High Court in Seremban on Friday, seeking to declare the result null and void.