Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks on how the Malays were forced to accept ‘orang asing’ (foreigners) during British rule in exchange for independence is downright insulting and unbecoming of a prime minister who represents all Malaysians, said DAP lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh.
Opening the Malay Dignity Congress yesterday, the prime minister had reportedly said that foreigners wanted to stay on in this country and “like it or not, we were forced to accept, or we will not have achieved independence”.
Describing the remarks as uncalled for, Ramkarpal said Mahathir should have known better.
“The PM should know that such remarks are highly sensitive and threatens racial harmony in the country and can lead to a divided nation along racial lines which must be avoided at all costs,” he added.
Commenting on the opening remarks by chief congress organiser Zainal Kling that “Malaysia is for Malays just as Thailand is for the Thais, China for the Chinese, and India for the Indians”, Ramkarpal said that if it was true that Mahathir did not hear him say it, “the prime minister should correct him now”.
Earlier, Mahathir claimed he did not hear Zainal’s statement that “Malaysia belonged to the Malays” when opening the congress.
“I am in full agreement with Penampang MP Darell Leiking that Malaysia belongs to all Malaysians be it the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans, etc and these races must be encouraged to interact harmoniously,” he added in a statement today.
“The PM won the last GE14 largely because of the support of non-Malays. That support was to see reforms for the betterment of this country and to move it forward, not to see the country becoming divided along racial lines.
“I call on the PM to take the lead in narrowing the gap between the races in the country and dispelling the false notion that the Malays are under threat.”
Reprimanding Zainal for his insensitive remarks, he said, would be a good start “and I urge the PM to do so forthwith”.
Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar also censured Mahathir over the ‘orang asing’ remark, saying the premier appeared to be giving the green light to others to make similar statements.
He pointed out that despite the premier claiming the congress was not racist, Tamil dailies had reported that among the resolutions presented were the closure of vernacular schools and that top government positions be reserved for Malays.
“But the said speaker (who raised this issues) would not be jailed under the Sedition Act as Umno jailed me…nor will Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador arrest anyone under Section 504 of the Penal Code and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia (MCMC) Act for hate speech under Mahathir’s pseudo rule of law,” he added in a statement.