Tunku Aziz says Penang Institute ‘utterly mad’
KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — Tunku Aziz Tunku Ibrahim has dismissed the Penang Institute’s continued offer of a senior fellowship, saying the think tank “must be utterly mad.”
The state-funded institute told a press conference earlier today the offer was still on the table for the former DAP vice-chairman despite his resignation from the party on Monday.
“They must be utterly mad. Do they really think they can tell people it is not a DAP think tank?” the 78-year-old told The Malaysian Insider.
Penang Institute executive director Datuk Woo Wing Thye was quoted by The Star as saying that he would be “very happy if he accepts it” and the offer was not tied to whether the founding president of Transparency International Malaysia was a party member. “We realised that we had the possibility of bringing to Penang Institute a well-respected public intellectual with an international reputation,” Woo said.
But Tunku Aziz said that “they can want anybody or anything but I’m not going to be a part of it.”
“They can forget it,” he said over the phone before hanging up.
Tunku Aziz, who was the party’s most senior Malay leader, quit DAP on national television after being publicly rebuked by secretary-general Lim Guan Eng for not supporting the April 28 Bersih rally, which the former called “an illegal street protest.”
He then openly criticised DAP, singling out Lim for being “biadap (uncouth)” and untrustworthy.
The ex-Bank Negara advisor told The Star that Lim had called him on Sunday offering him a senior fellowship in Penang Institute and “[dangled] travel as an attraction” after his tenure as senator was not renewed.
“Zairil Khir Johari (Lim’s political secretary) called and repeated the offer and stated there was a stipend of RM50,000 to go with it.
“Totally totally insulting, and I could only conclude that it had come from someone who had no sense and not even a modicum of respect,” he had said.
But DAP and the Penang Institute have insisted that the job offer was “genuine” and that it had nothing to do with Tunku Aziz leaving the party or to compensate the loss of his senatorship.
DAP has tried to reach out to Malays, who make up 60 per cent of the 12-million strong electorate, by recruiting leaders such as Tunku Aziz.
But he has conceded his failure to win over the community to the Chinese-dominated party that has been accused by Umno of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam.