KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 — In a rare show of unity, Umno and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have slammed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s argument that the Malays could end up being a minority.
They called the former prime minister’s theory “far-fetched”.
Umno’s Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said statements like these from Dr Mahathir had resulted in the Malays being even more split and unable to assert dominance.
“He (Dr Mahathir) is giving a far-fetched scenario, without really properly looking into finding a way to give out a proper message that young Malays could understand. He is scaring the Malays into becoming more Malay,” said Nur Jazlan.
Dr Mahathir suggested yesterday that future government leaders could open the immigration floodgates to dilute the number of Malays in the country.
He said in a posting on his popular blog that the current national leadership appears to believe that the Malays would continue to account for 60 per cent of the country’s population.
“He’s just being Dr Mahathir. Immigration polices would only be amended to allow more immigrants if the country desperately lacked labour and needed the input a lot.
“Bear in mind that even if immigrants come, they cannot vote. So how are they going to affect the Malays’ position?” Nur Jazlan told The Malaysian Insider.
He said that it was “not right” for the former PM to assume that the Malays were constantly under siege and could not compete with the other races.
“He should realise that it was from his own industrialisation policies which have resulted in the Malays being more progressive. The Malays today are competitive, strong and capable of direct competition,” said the Umno man.
He claimed that the reason why the Malays were not united in the first place was because of Umno’s own policies.
“It is the questioning of Umno’s own policies. If Umno wants their support it has to fight for them. Get them to be on our side,” said the Pulai MP.
“Dr Mahathir is just doing it for Perkasa. Perkasa is not taking off, Ibrahim Ali sounds racist when he opens his mouth. With Dr Mahathir’s position, he hopes to attract moderate Malays.”
But Nur Jazlan admitted that Dr Mahathir’s remarks would still have an “effect on the more rural Malays, who still regard him as a national icon.”
Another Umno member, Johor Baru MP Datuk Seri Shahrir Samad, said that while Umno could take heed of Dr Mahathir’s advice, he personally felt it was too speculative.
“I think that it is purely speculative. I’m not too worried about his remarks.
“He is basing his theory on a perception of Semenanjung Malaysia, on what had happened to Malaya. But we have to view his arguments in the context of Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak,” said Shahrir.
The former chairman of the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) told The Malaysian Insider that it would be highly unlikely that the government would open the immigration floodgates in the future, because Sabah and Sarawak would not be “agreeable” to that.
“We will take note of what he says. It will only happen if Sabah and Sarawak encourage such a policy. They would also have to agree, and for now I don’t see why they should. Decisions like these are made on a federal level, not just peninsular.
“And don’t forget, would PAS and PKR even approve of it?” said Shahrir.
He also said he understood what Dr Mahathir was trying to say.
“He is saying that BN would not do well if Umno does not command Malay support, and if the Malays remain divided between PAS, PKR and Umno.
“I think Umno has to work harder and be more mindful of the reversals of policies that how we have suffered from it. But Umno is still strong, we just have to build on our base,” added Shahrir.
Former Umno deputy president-turned PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim claimed that Dr Mahathir’s views were the actual obstacle for the Malays.
“I think that ideas like his are an obstacle, and will create even more insecurity among the Malays.
“He (Dr Mahathir) is oblivious to the fact that the new generation of Malays are more assertive, and confident of their abilities and position,” Anwar told The Malaysian Insider.
But Dr Mahathir’s one-time blue-eyed boy stressed that the Malays must also not be marginalised and that equal opportunity be given to all.
“We cannot take his views and position about non-Malays as he did during the 1950s. The second and third generation of non-Malays are as much citizens of the country as the Malays.
“I appeal to young Malays to be confident and move on with the future,” Anwar said.
Dr Mahathir’s latest remarks mark a continuation of a more strident right-wing tone adopted by the former prime minister in recent months in his push for a siege mentality among the Malays.
Last month, he argued that the community’s political leaders are now under the thumb of “the others” and need to be united again for the sake of its future.
He illustrated his argument by referring to the fall of the Perak PR government which he characterised as being “led by a Malay (but) a certain race considered it the fall of a government belonging to their race”.
Dr Mahathir has been stepping up his rhetoric in recent months to lobby for the current Umno leadership to respond to disquiet among conservative Malays.
Backed by increasingly influential right-wing Malay groups like Perkasa, Dr Mahathir and his supporters have rattled Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s reform agenda