KUALA LUMPUR: Just hours after declaring to the media he will not apologise, Datuk Mohamad Aziz (BN--Sri Gading) yesterday retracted his statement questioning if Bersih chairman Datuk S. Ambiga could be hanged for treason.
Mohamad withdrew the statement, which sparked an uproar when first uttered in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, at the behest of deputy speaker Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar after the matter was brought up by Lim Guan Eng (DAP--Bagan) in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Lim had asked Wan Junaidi to issue a ruling on Mohamad's statement.
"In this case, Sri Gading was just asking if it could be done or not," Wan Junaidi said, adding, "however, I do not agree with extreme statements. As a speaker I agree that members of parliament must be moderate. As such, I ask Sri Gading to stand. I want it retracted."
Mohamad then made a brief but spirited claim that the issue had been twisted by DAP into a racial issue as it was a racist party.
Mohamad said: "I just asked 'should'. I have not yet even accused her (Ambiga) of being guilty. Should Ambiga be considered a traitor to the Yang di--Pertuan Agung? If not, then she shouldn't be punished.
"I am a disciplined citizen from a disciplined party and in relation to that comment, if it is insulting to my Indian friends, insulting to the MIC leaders and PPP, and in respect for the spirit of understanding within Barisan Nasional, I retract all my statements made on June 26."
Wan Junaidi then said he considered the matter closed and told the members of parliament present not to bring the matter up during Parliament proceedings again.
Mohamad had, just hours before, held a press conference at Parliament lobby in which he stated he did not have to issue an apology as he had simply asked if Ambiga could be sentenced to hang if found guilty of treason against the Yang di--Pertuan Agong and that his statement had nothing to do with race, religion or gender.
Mohamad told reporters he was simply asking a question on the matter of national security and sovereignty as he said the act by rioters on April 28 could be considered treason towards the Agong.
He further agreed with a statement released by BN secretary--general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor yesterday that the controversial statement was not the coalition's stand on the matter.
"He is right to say that it was my personal statement and I support his statement, because it clearly says that we uphold the rights enshrined in the constitution.
I hope this clears things," Mohamad said.
The issue began when on June 26, Mohamad had said, "Apakah Ambiga tidak boleh kita anggap penderhaka kepada Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang di--Pertuan Agong dan hukum gantung kepada dia? (Why can't Ambiga be considered a traitor to the Yang di--Pertuan and be punished by hanging?)" in Parliament.