Mahathir Mohamad was not only the world’s oldest prime minister, but could easily snatch another trophy as the world’s oldest racist leader alive. Having served twice as Prime Minister of Malaysia, first stint in 1981-2003 and second stint in 2018-2020, the 96-year-old former premier has not lost his remarkable touch in promoting racism and discrimination.
His latest rambling in the “Chedet” blog titled “Race-based Parties” is yet another masterpiece – shifting all the problems to the non-Malays, his favourite past-time. In answering his own question – “Why is it that the political parties in Malaysia are race-based?” – he conveniently blames Malaysians who insist on retaining their identification with their countries of origin.
He argued that in other multiracial countries, the migrants from other countries, upon accepting citizenship adopt the language, culture and loyalties to their adopted countries completely. They get fully assimilated after one or two generations, said Mahathir. Clearly, he was referring to Chinese Indonesians, who surrendered everything, including their Chinese names.
Mahathir complained – “But in Malaysia the migrants, despite being citizens insist not only on being recognised as of different origins from the indigenous people, but are physically separated through their economic functions and their political affiliations”. Again, he was obviously referring to the “ungrateful minorities” Chinese and Indian in Malaysia.
He concluded – “As long as we retain our identification with our countries of origin, politics and political parties in Malaysia will remain racial”. Of course, in the same breath, he used non-Malays as not only the punching bag, but also the justification to his newly formed “Pejuang”, another racist Malay political party that appears to be unpopular to both the Malays and non-Malays.
It’s his right to create another Malay-based party after his Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu or PPBM) was hijacked and stolen by his most trusted lieutenant Muhyiddin Yassin, who betrayed allies – democratically elected Pakatan Harapan government – and formed a backdoor Perikatan Nasional government with defeated Barisan Nasional and extremist Islamist.
However, Mahathir has forgotten that today is not 1980s, where government-controlled news media was the only propaganda tool during his autocratic 22 years of dictatorship from 1981 to 2003. Blaming the non-Malays’ refusal to assimilate as the reason for the needs of race-based political parties is not only lame and laughable, but also speaks volumes about his desperation to remain relevant.
Before Mahathir became the 4th Prime Minister in 1981, the Malays and non-Malays were still living harmoniously, although there was racial tension as a result of 1969 racial riots, which was sparked by Abdul Razak (father of Najib Razak), who conspired with Selangor Chief Minister Harun Idris to start the bloody riots in order to seize power from first PM Tunku Abdul Rahman.
In just 10 years between independence in 1957 and the bloody racial riots in 1969, did Mahathir expect the non-Malays, whom he repeatedly insulted as “migrants”, assimilate by surrendering identities, languages, cultures, religions and whatnot? After the Chinese were slaughtered by the extremist UMNO-Malays in 1969, do you expect the “migrants” to forget and forgive?
Worse, Mahathir’s version of assimilation was not merely about adopting the language, culture and loyalties to their adopted countries, but also becoming a slave or second-class citizen through “Ketuanan Melayu” – the ideology of Malay supremacy espoused by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) under the Mahathir leadership during his 22 years iron-fist rule.
Just because Mahathir is incredibly ashamed of his Indian ancestry, the son of Iskandar “Kutty”, a migrant from the southern Indian state of Kerala, it does not give him the right to tell the ethnics Chinese and Indian to also abandon their roots. And even if the minorities were dumb enough to surrender everything, Indonesia has proven that assimilation will not eliminate racism or discrimination.
The May 1998 Indonesia riots saw at least 10,000 people were killed and at least 168 cases of rape – most of the victims were ethnic Chinese. Properties owned by Chinese Indonesians were deliberately targeted. Some business owners reportedly paid local thugs to protect them from the anti-Chinese violence because security forces were largely absent.
Even as recent as 2019, Prabowo Subianto, former son-in-law of the late dictator President Suharto, one of Mahathir’s best friends who ruled for 32 years until he was ousted following a mass student-led protests in 1998, sponsored radical Islamist groups to start riots because he lost to Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in the presidential election. Prabowo wanted to recreate another racial riots to undermine Jokowi.
Discrimination against Tionghua Indonesians and the resentment of ethnic Chinese economic aptitude remained till today even though the minority, representing only 3.3% of the Indonesian population, has engaged in interracial marriage and cultural assimilation – giving up Chinese name, language, culture, religion and traditional festivals.
In fact, when Suharto became the second president, he started the “New Order” (1967-1998) that systematically dismantled the pillars of ethnic Chinese identity in favour of assimilation policies as a solution to the so-called “Chinese Problem”. Still, the ethnic Chinese were the first to be butchered during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and continued to be targeted.
Mahathir should not selectively accused non-Malays, as if the minorities were the stubborn stumbling block to assimilate. Mr Mahathir, who previously said that Muslims have a right to “kill millions of French”, should explain why Muslim immigrants and their children have refused to assimilate into Western societies, leading to endless terrorism in France and other Western countries.
So, non-Malays or non-Muslims migrants must assimilate into a Muslim-majority country like Malaysia, but at the same time, Muslims migrants should not assimilate into a Christian-majority country like France? No wonder Mahathir was ranked 14th in the Counter Extremism Project’s (CEP) list of “The Top 20 Most Dangerous Extremists Around the World”.
Was Mahathir not the prime minister when his blue-eyed boy Najib Razak vowed in 1987 to bathe the “Keris (Malay dagger)” with Chinese blood? Was Mahathir not the prime minister when Hishammuddin Hussein, the cousin of Najib, raised, kissed and paraded his “Keris” for years, aiming the weapon at the minorities, especially ethnic Chinese?
The former premier talked as if racism will suddenly disappear if non-Malays abandon their respective identities. In truth, the non-Malays are more patriotic and Malaysians than certain Malays. The non-Malays always identified themselves as Malaysian first, unlike so-called Malay champions like Mahathir and his former most trusted lieutenant Muhyiddin Yassin, who insists they are Malay first.
Yes, Mahathir has no right to lecture the non-Malays about assimilation and abandoning their Chinese or Indian identities when Najib Razak proudly proclaimed himself the “Bugis Warrior” and Java-immigrant Zahid Hamidi, born in Ponorogo, is more Indonesian than Malaysian. Like it or not, the Malays too are migrants like the non-Malays, and Zahid is the best living proof.
You can’t insult the non-Malays with derogatory terms like “migrants” or “pendatang”, and tell them to go back to China or India or wherever they came from, while at the same time demanded that they give up their identities. And you certainly can’t rob the non-Malays of their business shares – first 30% and now 51% stake – while at the same time demanded their undivided loyalty to the Malay leaders.
Talking about going back to China or India, has Mahathir forgotten his best friend from India? Mahathir happily harboured and protected Indian Muslim hate preacher Zakir Naik, a permanent resident of Malaysia who deliberately said the Malaysian Chinese aren’t born in the country so they, as the “old guests”, must go back to China first before he (the “new guest”) can be asked to leave.
The fugitive preacher had also questioned Malaysian Hindu’s loyalty to PM Mahathir in an attempt to not only apple-polish the old man, but also to stir up racial and religion sentiments. When he disgracefully chose an outsider – a Muslim terrorist – instead of Malaysian Chinese and Indian, fellow citizens who pay taxes, Mahathir’s argument for assimilation is nothing but a truckload of bullshit.
It’s not rocket science why the non-Malays – or anyone who has a functioning brain – will not adopt an inferior, unfair, discrimination and double-standard system, let alone one that approves, subscribes and even promotes racist hatred, xenophobia, Malay supremacy and all forms of bigotry. Therefore, even if they refuse to assimilate, can you blame them?
Mr Mahathir himself was terribly hurt when Zahid Hamidi mocked and insulted him as the son of “Kutty”. Hence, he should understand that you can’t treat the non-Malays like dirt and expect them to be grateful at the same time. Had Malay leaders like Mahathir implemented policies based on fairness and meritocracy, the race-based parties will not survive and will be irrelevant today.
Like it or not, it seems Mahathir is trapped in his little game of divide-and-rule. While Opposition parties People’s Justice Party (PKR) and Democratic Action Party (DAP) are multiracial, Mahathir’s UMNO Baru, Bersatu and now Pejuang continue to compete for Malay votes in the rural areas along with PAS Talibans because he chooses to play racial politics.
Source : Finance Twitter