In the last few weeks, with opposition politicians, an online media journalist and an academic in Malaysia being charged or investigated under the Sedition Act, the country’s former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad seem to worsen the ambiance with his recent remark targeting the Malays.
During a book launch event held on Thurday (September 11), Mahathir who was the longest serving Prime Minister in Malaysia said he has failed to change the Malays to be more hardworking.
“I spent 22 years trying to change the Malays, trying to alter the perception that they were lazy, I failed.”
“I always tell non-Malays not to think that the Malays are lazy. If anyone asks me today, I would have to say Malays are lazy,” Dr Mahathir said.
Reaction From Netizens: Critics And Supporters
His remark has sparked mixed reactions from the netizens on social media and blogs.
Democratic Action Party (DAP) parliamentary leader said opposition leaders would have been arrested under the Sedition Act if they had said what the former prime minister said.
“In fact, without having to refer to Mahathir’s latest diatribe against the Malays, Mahathir and many UMNO Ministers and leaders (including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) would have been arrested and hauled to court for sedition based on their past speeches and statements if the current sedition blitz had not been afflicted by the sins of discriminatory bias and malicious/selective prosecution,” he said during the party’s branch anniversary dinner in Mersing. His speech was posted in his blog.
Another Twitter user with the name @AbdMalekHussin was quoted in an article posted on Today Online questioning the authority, “Dr Mahathir said Malays are lazy. What if (opposition Democratic Action Party politicians) Lim Kit Siang, Gobind Singh Deo, Tian Chua and Surendran said it, what would happen?”
Despite all the negative remarks by politicians and the lawyers in the country, Dr. Mahathir’s racist remark did received thumb ups from his supporters who expressed their agreements on his Facebook page. Many of his supporters cited that Dr. Mahathir was a leader who fears nothing to speak up the truth.
Mahathir Compares The Malays With The Chinese
In an exclusive interview with the country’s Malay language newspaper, Mingguan Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said if they were to be compared with people who are more lazy, the Malays can be considered as “not bad”, but the Malays have to be compared among themselves and be more competitive with the others.
When asked if he thinks the Malays are hardworking, he said, “Not hardworking. For example, they are not hardworking when it comes to studying.”
“I am ashamed when I see the Chinese students studying three different languages but still have a better grasp of the English language compared to their Malay peers,” he added.
Dr. Mahathir made further comparisons between the Malays and the Chinese using his bakery staff as example, which consists of Chinese, Malay, and Myanmar nationals. He said, “However, what I am shamed of is that when some Malay workers see money, they forget themselves and their values. They see money and if they can steal it, they steal it. The Chinese are not like this.”
His Take On The Effect Of Technology
Dr. Mahathir also said that although with more advance technologies available now, the young generation should not think that the technology will ease the workload; in contrary, the technology is in fact increasing our workload since technology is meant to simplify the work process.
“This does not mean that we will become more lazy, but technology will make us more productive,” he said.
Dr. Mahathir is Malaysian fourth Prime Minister and the longest serving prime minister in the country’s history, holding the post from 1981 to 2003.