“Fighting” did not only mean taking up arms, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said after an ex-servicemen’s group challenged his assertion that Umno had “fought and defeated” the communist insurgency.
Responding to the National Patriots Association’s criticism of his remarks to an Umno division this week, the former prime minister also accused the group of taking his words out of context.
Insisting he was not belittling the contributions of security personnel who quelled the insurgency, Najib pointed out that he also said Umno had “fought” the British during the Malayan Union as well as Indonesia during the Confrontation, in the same speech.
“Secondly, it is clear from the clip of my speech that I never said Umno members took up arms to fight or defeat the communist forces,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Najib argued that “fighting” and “opposing” have several definitions and were not limited to taking up arms and going to war.
Citing his remarks about the British and Indonesians, he asked why Patriot did not also claim that no Umno men directly fought either.
He was also adamant that it was the policy of the Umno-Barisan Nasional government to fight the communists during the Emergency.
“It can’t be that only a DAP government fought the communists at the time?” he added.
Najib ended by mocking Patriot, saying it was a minor organisation with a few members despite claiming to represent the country’s retired military and police personnel.
Yesterday, Patriot president Brig Gen (Rtd) Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji criticised Najib by saying there was no record of any Umno men ever fighting or dying in the communist insurgency, unlike servicemen who lost their lives in the battles.
Mohamed Arshad also accused Najib of twisting facts and history to curry favour with the Malay community, before demanding that he correct his remarks.