Singapore Minister Questions “Malays in Neighbouring Country” Reference in Dr M’s Poem

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Singapore Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam has questioned a pair of lines in a statement by Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday when the former premier revealed the name of his new party, which referenced Malays in a “neighbouring country”.

Shanmugam yesterday directed his social media followers’ attention to lines in a blog posting where Mahathir seemed to question if the said neighbouring country was “still Malay”.

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“Wonder which country Mahathir is referring to,” he posted on Facebook.

This was part of a 36-line poem by the Langkawi MP in unveiling the name of his new political party – Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).

It came five days after the former Bersatu chairperson announced that he would be forming a new party, after losing a bid to challenge his expulsion from Bersatu.

The new party, he said, would champion the interests of Malays and bumiputera, a struggle he claimed Bersatu, the party he co-founded, had since neglected.

Pejuang means fighter in Bahasa Malaysia.

Midway through his poem, Mahathir wrote:

“Lihat Melayu negara jiran.

“Melayu lagikah negara mereka?”

(Look at the Malays of the neighbouring country. Is their country still Malay?)”

Mahathir, however, did not state which country he meant by those lines.

Singapore was once part of Malaysia, having joined the Federation of Malaya, Sabah (then known as North Borneo) and Sarawak in 1963. It was, however, booted out in 1965.

Although over 70 percent of its population comprise Chinese Singaporeans, the Malays, who make up less than 15 percent, are still recognised as the indigenous people of the island state.

Other neighbouring countries with ethnic Malay communities include Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia. – Malaysiakini