Drawing flak from the minority Indian community, a Malay party in Malaysia's Perak state has issued a public apology over a racial slur against Indians uttered by one of its state assembly persons last week.
Hamida Osman at a meeting last week reportedly asked the state assembly speaker V Sivakumar if he agreed to disagree with the well-known fable of whether "a snake or an Indian should be killed first". She later retracted her statement and apologised.
In a statement faxed to the New Straits Times daily's office, an official of Perak UMNO (United Malays National Organisation), whose main body UMNO is the majority component of the ruling Barisan Nasional, said he was instructed by state liaison chairman Tajol Rosli Ghazali to issue a statement on the matter.
He said Tajol Rosli wanted the matter dealt with quickly for fear it would affect relations since the issue had drawn flak from the public.
Rosli said Perak Umno and the state Barisan Nasional regretted "the slip of tongue" by Hamidah Osman and "apologised to all quarters who are unhappy with the remark, especially the Indian community".
"Nevertheless, to maintain a good relationship among the races, we hope this statement of regret and apology will be accepted with an open heart by all parties," he said.
Various Indian-based groups, including Malaysian Indian Congress president S Samy Vellu, and other Malaysians have criticised Hamidah for her insensitive remark.
They urged her to publicly apologise for the racial slur, but she maintained throughout that she had already retracted the remark in the state assembly which, she claimed, was adequate enough for an apology, local media reports said.