MARCH 27 — Nice try by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but who is it exactly who has accused the Malays of stealing the wealth of the nation and denying the rights of non-Malays.
Who? No one.
Opening right-wing Malay group Perkasa’s AGM today, the former PM asked for a comprehensive review to answer allegations that the Malays have stolen the country’s wealth and denied the rights of non-Malays.
“I ask that if people want to accuse, make accusations that have basis, don’t be unfair,” Dr Mahathir told the Perkasa faithful.
“I am not racist, I love my country, we are not racists ... if we cannot be fair to the Malays, then we cannot be fair to other races,” he had said.
Dr Mahathir said: “If I am wrong, prove it to me, prove it to others.”
Though his voice remained level, the 84-year-old still managed to stir the crowd this morning into a frenzy when he remarked on how unfair it was for non-Malays to be allowed to call Malays “pendatang (immigrants)” and not vice versa.
This is Dr Mahathir at his best. Create an accusation, level it at his enemies or rivals and claim that they started it.
It is clear that all the non-Malays want is not to be treated like tenants in the country.
As for for wealth, the accusation has been levelled against a small group of Malay elite by Malaysians who have seen the abuses and leakages, most of which happened during Dr Mahathir’s time in government.
Today was an exercise in deflecting true cause of unhappiness and disaffection among Malays.
Today’s sabre-rattling rhetoric appears to be also aimed at Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as well.
On Tuesday, Najib is due to deliver a speech to outline administrative reforms and even possibly a timetable for removing subsidies and other crutches.
It remains to be seen if today’s fighting talk from Dr Mahathir and other Perkasa leaders will lead to any dilution of Najib’s New Economic Model.
Today’s rhetoric also runs counter to Najib’s vision of 1 Malaysia.
In his speech Dr Mahathir also spoke of how he thought public debate on the issue of race had led the country towards a state of instability.
His prescription is to put a lid on race issues because Malaysia’s economic growth had been hampered.
The PM on the other hand has been trying to be inclusive in his public messages.
Through the New Economic Model Najib is also making an attempt at pursuing reforms and rectifying structural weaknesses in the country’s administration.
He could most certainly do without Dr Mahathir and Perkasa.