Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today warned that championing the cause or interests of a single ethnic or religious group would see the country’s destruction.
He said the government is progressing in delivering equality to all by working on the principle of fairness.
“We have our own sets of prejudices within our people but by and large, we have come to accept that any attempt to champion one race or religious group at the expense of the other will result in destruction of all that we have worked hard to build.
“Instead, we keep working on our common interests and common grounds. It is not easy but we kept plugging at it and we have managed thus far,” he said during his keynote address as the Al Sharq Youth 5th annual conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Mahathir said the differences in religion, race, and culture require us to make compromises and to be accommodating and that allowed us to tolerate many things.
“Yes, some may say that it sounds good on paper and not all that we strive for had fallen into place. But they are works in progress and we are pragmatic enough to change our approaches when we know it is not taking us forward,” he said.
However, he said Malaysians should take pride that our country has been able to move forward despite its diversity.
“In fact, we have come to believe that we are quite successful as a nation because of our diversity,” he said.
Later when attending a Workers Day celebration here, Mahathir told workers that the so-called 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs may provide lower wage but were still vital to the nation’s development.
“It is a low salary but if they don’t work, there’s no salary at all. They have to choose. If they work, they will still get a salary.
“If they don’t work, foreign workers will work and our money flows out of the country. We become poor and the unemployed have no income. We can’t give free money like last time (referring to the previous government),” he told a press conference after the event.
Mahathir was commenting on his speech earlier that the influx of foreign workers into the country was due to the reluctance of many locals to do 3D jobs.
“The government prioritises Malaysian citizens for jobs. However, I must say that the presence of foreign workers in the country stems from our refusal to take on certain jobs, even though we are capable of doing so.”
When asked if the government would ensure that employers paid higher salaries for 3D jobs, Mahathir said the government cannot dictate pay levels in the private sector.
“We can’t force employers to pay more but we have to remember, we work for the nation, to develop our country. If we don’t work, someone else will get our money and we will be at a loss,” he said. – The Sun Daily