Singapore: Ahead of the parliamentary elections in the country next month, a controversial Malaysian political leader has apologised to Indians there for making disparaging remarks against the Hindu religion 10 years ago.
Datuk Zulkifli Noordin of the Barisan Nasional party met a group of 100 Indians over dinner at Shah Alam, the capital of the state of Selangor, last weekend and offered his apologies, local media reported.
Noordin is contesting the Shah Alam parliamentary constituency in Malaysia's general elections to be held May 5.
Accepting that he practised extremist and racist politics, he said that it was because opposition parties "taught us that".
"Not only did we have a racist, chauvinistic attitude towards the Indians, but also towards our own races. We, the Malays in the opposition, were taught to hate our own race," The New Straits Times quoted him as saying.
"Now that I am with BN (Barisan Nasional), I can see that harmony between races has long existed and can be enhanced," said Noordin, who is also a vice-president of Perkasa, a Malay supremacy organisation formed after the 2008 general elections.
Noordin ran into controversy in the run-up to this year's elections when an old video surfaced in which he is shown doubting the purity of the river Ganga, considered sacred by Hindus.
His apology was welcomed with thunderous applause by the gathering, according to the report.
S.A. Subra, adviser of Selangor Welfare and Human Wellbeing Association, and who organised the event, said he forgave Noordin.
"When you forgive a person, he can change. We should give him (Noordin) the opportunity," Subra was quoted as saying.