IPOH: Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is not disheartened by the criticisms against him on the delivery of his speech in English at the recent United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Saying that he was not slighted by the comments, the Deputy Prime Minister said he was, however, disappointed and ashamed of the fact that some people who were born and bred in Malaysia were unable to speak Bahasa Malaysia.
He jokingly said that a boy from Izzuddin (referring to himself, an alumnus of SMA Izzuddin Shah in Ipoh) had spoken at the UN, and asked if anyone from STAR (the elite Sekolah Tunku Abdul Rahman) or Anderson (SMK Anderson) had done so.
“When I went for a holiday overseas I saw a foreign worker (Bangladeshi) selling chestnuts. Upon seeing us he said in fluent Bahasa: ‘Buah berangan, murah murah, panas panas (chestnut, cheap and hot).’
And when I asked him how he learned to speak the language, he told me he had been in Malaysia for two-and-a-half years.
“But here we have people who have been living in the country for ages yet are unable to speak Bahasa Malaysia,” he said in his speech at the launching of the Ipoh Barat Umno delegates meeting yesterday.
Following the criticisms levelled by some Malaysians against Dr Ahmad Zahid on his speech at the 71st session of the assembly last month, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who also attended the event in New York, said the critics should have focused on the important message conveyed by the Deputy Prime Minister instead.
Anifah pointed out that because of UN’s diverse membership, world leaders often delivered their statements in heavily-accented English while others spoke in their own language and added that Dr Ahmad Zahid’s message was well received as many representatives from other member states thanked and congratulated him after his speech.
Earlier in his speech, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said the Deputy Prime Minister should not be ashamed of the criticisms against him.
“You should not shy away from speaking but continue to speak because there are always certain parties who will find fault with leaders,” he added.
He also questioned why people always felt ashamed when they were unable to speak English but not so when they couldn’t speak Bahasa Malaysia well.