Mahathir reminded not to make divisive statements, especially concerning ethnic matters.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should not question the loyalty of Malaysians of Indian and Chinese descent just because they speak their mother tongue and adhere to their own culture and customs, says Digital Minister Gobind Singh Deo.
In a statement today, the DAP national deputy chairman said this was because Malaysia was a multi-ethnic country with citizens from various religious and cultural backgrounds.
“It is unfortunate that despite having led this country for many years, Dr Mahathir still feels it is appropriate to make divisive statements, especially on ethnic matters.
“The Federal Constitution clearly recognises this, stating that except as allowed explicitly by the constitution itself, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the grounds of religion, race, descent, place of birth, or gender in any law,” he said.
Gobind added that it was widely accepted that many citizens of the country spoke more than one language, with most being fluent in Bahasa Malaysia and their mother tongue, including, among others, Chinese, Tamil, Iban, or Kadazan.
“This has never been an issue for us. On the contrary, it is the diversity that has strengthened us and positioned us to benefit from the largely globalised world we live in today,” he said.
Therefore, he said that Dr Mahathir must acknowledge that all Malaysians, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sabahan, or Sarawakian, have worked and continue to work hard to build this nation.
“It is not wrong if we come from different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds or speak different languages. We are indeed Malaysians and loyal to our country,” he said.
Recently, a news portal reported that Dr Mahathir claimed in an exclusive online interview with an Indian satellite TV channel that Malaysian Indians were still not completely loyal to the country as they were still ‘inexorably tied’ to their country of origin.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir’s remarks have been roundly slammed by other politicians.
DAP national chairperson Lim Guan Eng has described Dr Mahathir’s remarks as seditious and extremist, saying the leader was taking a dangerous line.
In a press conference held at his service centre in Bagan, Penang, Lim said such remarks crossed a line.
“I want to refer to the seditious as well as extreme remarks made by former prime minister Mahathir when he said he questioned the loyalty of Malaysian Indians and said you must identify yourself as a Malay then only you can consider this country as your home.
“I think this is too much. This is not only extreme but also dangerous. And coming from a prime minister who preached about fostering a Malaysian race, a Malaysian nation, this goes against everything he stood for in the past.
“It is clear that this is politically motivated because he failed to win over the support of Malaysians,” said Lim in an apparent reference to Mahathir’s poor showing at the last election when he lost his deposit while defending his Langkawi seat.
“He has taken an extremist, racist, and dangerous line to win support. And this extremist, racist, and dangerous tactic will only threaten the harmony and unity of Malaysians.
“That’s why it’s extremely important that we should all unite together to reject such extremist and racist politics,” said Lim.