MCA has called out former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his “provocative incoherence” when he alleged in the latest episode of the “Keluar Sekejap” podcast that Chinese and Indian immigrants in the past had refused to assimilate to Malay culture.
MCA vice president Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said since the country’s independence, Barisan Nasional and all successive governments – up until today’s unity government – had stuck to the policy of diversity and integration rather than assimilation as they are the keys to Malaysia’s success.
“Is Dr Mahathir, who twice served as our country’s premier, aware of this, or has he conveniently ‘muda lupa’ (easily forgotten)? It is unfathomable as to why Dr Mahathir continues to distort facts with malice,” Tan said in a statement today (Nov 14).
Elaborating, he said every ethnic group in the world tends to retain one’s tradition and culture, and that such identification is unrelated with condescending another culture.
“Dr Mahathir’s comments are undoubtedly racially inflammatory and ignore our ancestors’ common struggle for Independence and formulating a Constitution intended to protect our citizen’s diversity,” he remarked.
Tan went on to applaud Keluar Sekejap co-host Khairy Jamaluddin who had interjected Dr Mahathir to point out that Malaysia’s model of integration among citizens is more preferred compared to the assimilation in Indonesia and Thailand.
“Khairy’s [opinion on Malaysia’s model of integration] is reasonable and meaningful,” he added.
Tan also urged Malaysians to endeavour to safeguard and defend the nation’s moderation and spirit of diversity to ensure that peace, progress and development prevail.
“As a nonagenarian, Dr Mahathir should give up babbling about racial issues and politics. Blessed with a wealth of experience, projecting inclusive and constructive ideas will assist the country to overcome the economic downturn and inflation,” he stressed.
“As an elder statesman, he will leave a lasting positive legacy by encouraging Malaysians to build on mutual goodwill, avoid conflicts and standing on common ground with the average person on the street struggling to pay one’s bills.”
Tan further noted that in the past, the veteran politician had even ranted that Malays in the country “did not benefit” from the multi-ethnic fabric of the country.
“If Dr Mahathir had leveraged on his past leadership of modernising Malaysia, he would leave behind a lasting positive legacy,” he opined.
“Moderate and progressive Malaysians are disinclined towards a gas-lighting politician from a bygone era whose persistence of divisiveness and paying up racial sentiments serve no meaningful purpose for our nation and multicultural society, other than destruction.”
During the Keluar Sekejap podcast, co-hosted by Khairy and Shahril Hamdan, Dr Mahathir had also pointed out that immigrants in the past had sought integration rather than assimilation as they aimed to preserve the culture from their countries of origin.
He also said Malaysia was historically Tanah Melayu, declaring it to be the land of the Malays.
“But when the migrants wished to retain their identities and went as far as to dispute the ownership of this country to be not a Malay country but a multicultural one, that means we have lost our country,” he said.
In response, Khairy said Malaysia had never insisted on assimilation for Chinese and Indian immigrants, and that citizens were allowed to retain their languages and cultures.
To this, Dr Mahathir said, “They refused, not that we did not insist. We wanted them to become Malay but they looked down on us. They didn’t want to be known as Malays.” – Nov 14, 2023
Main pic credit: Reuters