Racial rhetoric the acknowledgment of dismal failure of Tun M

TWICE former prime minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed abandoned Pejuang – the party he formed alongside 12 other members – to join Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) in his quest to spearhead the struggle for Malay political and economic rights.

He said that Malays might be the natives of the country but lost their economic and political rights to “foreigners” which means the non-Malays.

He went on to say that before he dies, his only priority to rectify the economic and political imbalance of the Malays.

It was in this regard that he was concerned that the new electoral delimitation exercise might not work in the favour of the Malays.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) and Datuk Ibrahim Ali

To date, DR Mahathir had abandoned political parties such UMNO, Bersatu and Pejuang. One wonders when he is going to abandon Putra with the president Datuk Ibrahim Ali by his side.

Chances are that Dr Mahathir might have outclassed Ibrahim insofar as jumping parties is concerned. Ibrahim might relish the thought that he is not the only infamous “frog” in the country.

Dr Mahathir who incessantly talks about Malay rights was the same man who lost his election deposit in the parliamentary constituency of Langkawi, the island that he ironically developed.

He cannot understand why the Malays in the constituency rejected him and many others of his earlier political coalition in other parliamentary constituencies in the country.

As long as Dr Mahathir is around, there will be talkS of how Malays have lost their rights gradually to the non-Malays whom he refers to as “foreigners”.

Insult on non-Malays

As far as Dr Mahathir is concerned, there is hardly any difference between the non-Malays and other foreigners in Malaysia, both documented and undocumented.

Maybe the infamous Muslim preacher from a foreign country might have been inspired in calling the non-Muslims or non-Malays as “guests” in the country.

It is strange but downright insulting to call fourth and fifth generations of non-Malays as “foreigners” or even “guests”.

Prof P. Ramasamy (Pic credit: MalayMail)

Given this, it is a wonder that race relations in the country never got off on a proper footing in the decades after political independence.

Dr Mahathir was in power twice on the basis of Malay and non-Malay support. In the 14th General Election (GE14) in 2018, he would not have made the PM without the support of the non-Malays, particularly from the DAP.

But now he terms them as “foreigners”. It was alright for him to get the support of the “foreigners” when it suited him.

Dr Mahathir might have forgotten that his descendants were foreigners from the Indian state of Kerala. Yet he wants to take legal action against UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for merely pointing out his Indian ancestry.

Dr Mahathir was the country’s longest PM. This was the period he was responsible for institutionalising racism in the country.

However, despite being in power for more than two decades, what did he do to assist the Malays? The New Economic Policy (NEP) predicated on the objectives of reducing poverty and transferring wealth to the Malays ended up as a failure.

But the NEP was used and manipulated for the enrichment of well-connected Malays to those in power.

I am sure the children and families of Malay politicians including those of Dr Mahathir and other bureaucrats reaped the handsome rewards in the forms of licenses, permits and contracts.

Colossal damage

Yes, the Malays benefitted but not the majority; perhaps only a tiny segment that had all the right connections. This was the failure of Dr Mahathir and many other Malay politicians in the country.

Having done the colossal damage, Dr Mahathir cannot turn around to say that the Malays have not benefited because the “foreigners” or the non-Malays have assumed nefarious control of the political and economic heights.

Dr Mahathir might have jumped political parties, but the theme of Malay deprivation is the same one – repeated again and again.

He might have outperformed Ibrahim infamously described as the “frog”. The strange thing about Malaysian politicians is the fact that they never admit their colossal mistakes.

Where did they go wrong and how they could rectified them if given the opportunity. However, Dr Mahathir hardly cares about the ordinary Malays; they are just the sacrificial lambs of super-elitist policies.

As far as Dr Mahathir is concerned, the fault is in the “foreigners” who took Malay hospitality for granted and abused it.

The man, Dr Mahathir, who infamously wrote the Malay Dilemma continues to remind us how racism has come to embody his mind and soul. – March 6, 2023


Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy is the state assemblyman for Perai. He is also Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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