Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s claim that Chinese educationist group Dong Zong is “racist” is not only out of line, but a violation of the so-called multiracial principles of Malaysia Baru, said Gerakan vice-president Baljit Singh.
He reminded Mahathir that he was chosen to represent all Malaysians and not to be stuck in the past with an “Umno mindset”.
“He became the PM despite his party having the least seats in Parliament. Those in Pakatan Harapan chose him to lead the coalition as they probably thought he has learnt from his previous 22 years’ experience,” Baljit told Malaysiakini.
“It is obvious now that he has not learnt a thing nor has he changed. What is now more than outrageous, but bordering on ridiculous, is Mahathir’s latest remark that the police can act on the group if they have violated any laws.
“Are disagreements and speaking one’s mind now a crime worthy of police action?” asked the lawyer who is based in Penang.
In response to Mahathir, Dong Zong denied it was racist, and said its opposition to imposing khat lessons on Standard Four students were the “mainstream view of the non-Muslim community”.
On Aug 12 in Langkawi, Mahathir branded Dong Zong “racist” after it claimed the government’s move to introduce khat in schools was a form of “Islamisation”.
Baljit said the controversy over khat is not a racist issue, but the prime minister and the cabinet need to review the manner in which they carry out consultation procedures and make decisions.
In the cabinet, power cannot be vested in one man alone, he added.
“Just because some groups are questioning the education policy on khat lessons, it does not make them racist.
“Is Rafidah Aziz a racist as she also rejected learning khat in school? I am against learning khat in school…does that make me a racist also?” Baljit asked.
He said it is time for Mahathir to prioritise what is important for Malaysians, in order to move Malaysia forward.
After 60 years, people expect this new government to make effective reforms, he added.
Baljit said one important focus is education, where priority needs to be on improving the quality of education instead of repeating ineffective learning methods.
Although there was a blueprint mooted during BN’s rule, their proposals need to be reviewed and vetted to see if they are still relevant for today’s Malaysia, he added.
“This is exactly why people voted for a change of government, to see reforms, not to have their shoe colours changed or to watch a recycled movie being replayed like a broken record over and over again”. – Malaysiakini