On June 22, Malaysia’s 76-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad dropped a political bombshell in the midst of the three day national conference of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). One hour into his closing speech, Mr. Mahathir suddenly announced that he was immediately resigning all his party and government positions.
He burst into tears and cried like a baby, as delegates, including Iron Lady Rafidah Aziz rushed to the stage, crying “Why, Why”. A sobbing Mahathir could be heard saying – “No, I have decided. I have decided.” Although shocking, many thought it was nothing but a melodrama, as the political party was well known of staging. But he was adamant about quitting.
Days earlier, the prime minister expressed regret over his failure to change the mindset of Malay Muslims, whom he slammed as complacent, incompetent and ungrateful. Mahathir said he had tried everything – from pleading to praying to crying, in trying to jolt the community from what he called a “culture” of extravagance and taking the easy way out.
In an interview, he said – “This is our culture. We do not know what hardship is, we only want things to be easy. I have tried to be an example, tried to teach, scolded, cried and even prayed. But I have failed. I have failed to achieve the most important thing – how to change the Malays. The Chinese in Malaysia have no special rights, they experience discrimination. But they are more successful than us.”
After 16 years since Mahathir quit UMNO and slammed the Malays, he has spoken again. At his newly created party Bersatu’s (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia) second anniversary celebration at the Malawati Stadium on Saturday night, Mahathir, now 93 years old, has condemned the Malays again – calling the community “lazy and untrustworthy”.
The world’s oldest prime minister said among the failings of the Malays is their unwillingness to work hard and having a lackadaisical attitude to their own responsibilities. According to the New Straits Times, Mahathir unleashed his frustration at the Malays – “We accuse others. We accuse the government, accuse other races. When we fail, they are at fault. We are never wrong.”
He lectured the Malays – “Where are our faults? There are many. The first is we do not work as hard as others. Not only that, we also do not pay attention to our responsibilities. We don’t pay attention before deciding to do something. We lack mastery of the knowledge and information needed to make good decisions. I dare to say that we are lazy. We like to hand over our jobs to other people.”
Mocking the Malays as lazy wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was when Mahathir labelled the Malays’ attitude of being “untrustworthy” and for not having a sense of responsibility for tasks entrusted to them, as well as their tendency to break promises. The Malay community, he said, would not thing twice about taking things or money that do not belong to them.
The Malaysian leader said – “When we owe someone, it’s hard to pay back. Take the PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation). It’s not much that we need to pay back, just a little. We can afford it. Even if we only make RM2,000 a month, what’s RM100 a month? Only five per cent. But even those who earn more than that don’t pay. Stingy.”
“Whatever excuses we give, the fact is we don’t pay our debts. To us, it’s a small matter. But to other races, it erodes their trust in us. PTPTN debtors owe RM36 billion, almost the same as the stolen 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd) funds,” – he said. As a result, banks no longer want to lend to Malays, which has led to many Malay traders unable to secure capital.
Love him or hate him, Mahathir is perhaps the only Malay-Muslim leader left who dares to slam, mock and even insult his own community for being lazy and untrustworthy. If a non-Malay leader were to say the same thing about the highly sensitive Malay race in the country, all hell will break loose and blood will flow on the street. A bloody riot will definitely start.
Not even prime-minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim would dare criticize his own community at the scale Mahathir had done, for obvious reason. However, unlike Anwar Ibrahim who loves to be praised and lack the courage to call a spade a spade, a strong and decisive Mahathir isn’t too afraid about Malay voters getting offended for being labelled lazy and untrustworthy.
Between the year he quit in 2002 and this week, this isn’t the second time that Mahathir has criticised the Malay-Muslim, and it will certainly not be the last. In 2014, he insulted the Malays, saying they do not feel ashamed of failures anymore. He said the Malays would become “Mat Rempit” (Malay motorcycle gang members) when they failed.
He had earlier mocked the Malays students – “I am ashamed when I see the Chinese students studying three different languages, but still have a better grasp of the English language compared with their Malay peers. The Malays study two languages, Bahasa Malaysia and English, but they keep saying ‘all right, that is enough, no need to learn English any more’.”
Mahathir, perhaps confused with what had happened to the Malay race, also commented – amusingly – “In the past, when a Malay was sentenced to jail, the offender would hang his head in shame as it was not something to be proud of … But today, when a Malay is sentenced to jail, the offender will walk with his head proudly in the air, smiling as if he has achieved something.”
But the most dramatic event which had made the old man mad was when he experienced for himself the dishonesty of fellow Malays. He said – “Now I have a bakery. I want to say honestly, I am ashamed because among the Malay, Chinese or Burmese or any other workers, the Malay ones sometimes when they see money, they forget themselves, they become dishonest.”
He revealed he was forced to sack many of his Malay staff working in “The Loaf”, his Japanese-inspired bakery, for swindling money. Apparently, his bakery business suffered a mini scandal when the daily collection was not deposited into the bank. A Malay manager was then caught red-handed stealing money from the cash register and the incident infuriated Dr Mahathir.
Mahathir shared his sobbing story – “I am operating a bakery and have given many opportunities to Malays to hold management positions. Unfortunately, time and time again, honesty and integrity appear to be lacking as there have been staff who keep stealing money. They do not seem to understand that it is wrong to take what is not theirs. They do not think of the big picture or the long term.”
Because the Malays lack honesty and integrity, hence, Mahathir justified why he was forced to give contracts to the ethnic Chinese – “We have to be trustworthy so people will give contracts to us. When we want to give contracts, we give to the Chinese instead because we know they will do their work properly. This is our weakness – not being trustworthy.”
Without him realizing it, the Malay manager’s trustworthiness was the least he should be concerned of. He was left speechless when his protégé Najib Razak turned out to be the biggest crook under his watch. Mahathir hadn’t expect an elite Malay-Muslim like Najib, the son of the country’s second Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein, would take trustworthiness to a new level.
As early as January this year, just four months before the May 9th nationwide election, Mahathir slammed the Malays for being less committed to work, not hardworking and at times, not trustworthy. Speaking at his Vision 2020 Forum, he said – “I believe the Malays have the same capabilities as the Europeans and the Japanese. But, the Malay culture remains a problem.”
To be fair, of course, not all Malays are lazy and steal money whenever they have the chance. Those Malays who sell “nasi lemak” in a Chinese-dominated “pasar (market)” demonstrate a more hardworking and possesses more honour attitude than former premier Najib Razak. In the same breath, not all ethnic-Chinese are hardworking and honest.
Unfortunately, the lazy and untrustworthy Malays constitute the majority of the community. On the other hand, only a minority of the Chinese belong to the same despicable group. Therefore, the Chinese are seen as hardworking and honest while the Malays give the bad image as nothing but a bunch of lazy and untrustworthy people.
Adding insult to the injury, the Malays make up 68.8% of the Malaysian population, making them the biggest group of lazy, if not untrustworthy, race in the country. Hence, it only makes sense that Mahathir consistently mocks and insults the same community he represents as being the most complacent, incompetent and ungrateful people.
Yet, it’s quite amazing and puzzling that while Mahathir acknowledges – even condemns – the Malays of being lazy and untrustworthy, he continues to pour fuel into the fire – promoting special privileges in commerce and education for the community that seems forever hungry for handouts and freebies. His racism policy and refusal to promote meritocracy were part of the problems.
Source : Finance Twitter