Lim urged Malaysians to emulate Nazir in speaking their minds despite the risk of backlash.
“I hope his brother (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) can be just as brave as him,” he said while condemning a news article in Utusan Malaysia that had labelled Nazir as “anti-Malay” for his praise of Azran.
Azran had criticised Utusan Malaysia for an inflammatory headline, “Apa lagi Cina mau?”, which it ran immediately after the Election 2013. This led to the newspaper to take aim at him and proclaim a boycott against advertising from the airline that he helms.
On Monday, Nazir defended Azran for his forthright attitude, saying that this is the “mark of a leader”, leading to attacks against the banker.
Lim also accused Utusan Malaysia today of turning Malaysians on one another through what he called racially-toned articles.
“Malaysians do not want to be enemies with each other so I hope more Malaysians will be like Nazir,” the DAP secretary-general said in a press conference at his office this afternoon.
Malay-Muslim groups have criticised both Nazir and Azran for their views, branding both of them as “anti-Malay” and for forgetting “their roots”.
Yesterday, the Muslim Consumer Association of Malaysia had in a statement reminded Nazir and Azran of their roots and told them not to be arrogant because of their wealth, position and property.
In a blog post reproduced by Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia today, former information minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin accused Nazri of plunging brother Najib and Umno deeper into a post-polls “crisis of confidence” by coming to Azran’s defence.
He said Nazir, the CEO of CIMB Group and the younger brother to Prime Minister Najib, had likely thought that Barisan Nasional (BN) would recapture some of lost support from the Chinese had Utusan Malaysia not targeted the community.
“But in truth, Nazir only added to the problems faced by Datuk Seri Najib and Umno,” the former minister said in a blog posting that was published in Utusan Malaysia today.
Zainuddin further asked if labelling Azran forthright and frank meant Nazir was joining the ranks of those who have accused Utusan Malaysia of being racist.
Zainuddin went on to justify Utusan’s “brave” backing of Umno in fighting off the rival elements that have eroded public confidence in the government, which he said had opened the newspaper to financial risks.