Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s ridiculous claim that Indian Malaysians are not completely loyal to the country as they still identify with their country of origin is preposterous.
It is without any merit; it is without substance! This was his outlandish stand when he was interviewed by Indian satellite TV channel Thanthi TV.
How did he come to this conclusion of “complete loyalty” after the questionable notion of “complete loyalty”? What is the sociological notion of “complete loyalty”? Was a survey conducted? Was this the finding of such a survey?
As far as we are concerned, there was no such survey. How then did Mahathir come to this absurd conclusion?
Did the ethnic Indians whisper into his ears that they “are not completely loyal to the country”? Is he sharing this confidential message with us?
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Or is it his personal cock-eyed view?
To hog the limelight, Mahathir will do anything. Now he has come out with this outrageous claim. His contention that all Indians must shun their traditions and customs and behave like Malays to fully assimilate themselves as citizens of Malaysia is a lot of hogwash! It is an absurd claim by someone who doesn’t remember our history, in which we journeyed together – the ethnic Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minorities – to obtain independence for Malaya on 31 August 1957.
Without the joint struggle of the Malays, Chinese, Indians and other minorities, we wouldn’t have secured independence for Malaya 67 years ago. It wasn’t the effort of any one community.
Mahathir is no respecter of the Federal Constitution. If he was, he wouldn’t be talking nonsense!
His assertion that Indians must give up their culture, customs and traditions and stop using their Indian language at home in order to “become Malay” and fully assimilate as Malaysians is nothing but balderdash!
I have known quite a number of well-educated Malays who speak English at home and converse in English with their young children. Do they cease to be Malays? What does Mahathir say about this situation? He can’t say they are not Malays. Constitutionally, they are Malays, irrespective of what he thinks.
There are also Indian Muslims who are bona fide Malays, and they speak Tamil. Does this disqualify them as Malays, Mahathir? You can think whatever you want, it doesn’t change the facts; it doesn’t nullify the constitutional provisions.
If it is Mahathir’s contention that minorities must give up their ethnic identity to fully assimilate as citizens of Malaysia, what is his take on the millions of Muslims who have migrated to the UK and Europe? Will he say they too must give up their traditions, customs and cultures to fully assimilate as citizens of Britain and the European countries? Will he dare? Will he be consistent in his stand?
How did Muslim mayors in Britain take up their positions without renouncing their ethnic identities, traditions and cultures? How is this possible elsewhere?
Take the prime minister of Britain. Rishi Sunak is a practising Hindu who observes Indian customs – and he is a British citizen. In the US Congress, there are practising Hindus who are Americans.
In mature democracies, there are no such idiosyncrasies as stipulated by Mahathir.
In the same interview, Mahathir criticised India for starting off as a secular country, but today it is no longer so. According to him, India has become a Hindu country discriminating against the Christians and Muslims.
Didn’t we start off as a secular country as testified by our beloved Tunku Abdul Rahman. What are we now? Isn’t there discrimination in Malaysia?
Mahathir seems to have a problem when “immigrants” (the Indians and Chinese) call the country their own while professing their own cultures and customs. This is our country, whether Mahathir likes it or not. We are born here and we expect to die here as Malaysians. This is our country of origin – this is beyond question!
But the bureaucracy does not allow us to identify ourselves as Malaysians. In all the forms that we have to fill, we are compelled to identify ourselves as Indians, Chinese, Kadazans, etc.
When my son was born in 1968, I wrote “Malaysian” under the space for “race” when applying for his birth certificate. It was rejected. I was told to state that he was an “Indian”.
We are categorised and isolated and never allowed to evolve into Malaysians. Keeping us apart has been the official policy.
When Mahathir was asked what he thought about the contribution of the minorities to nation-building and the country’s economy, he flippantly replied: “They have been ‘fairly compensated’ for it.”
Who compensated them, Mahathir? Nobody! They reaped the fruit of their labour. Not only that, they paid taxes, which were used to develop the country and pay your salary as well!
In his warped reasoning, he did not acknowledge the contributions of the Chinese and Indians and blatantly dismissed their role in the development of Malaysia.
Malaysians may be tempted to ask, “Mahathir, what did you contribute?”
Don’t forget you were totally rejected by the Malays in the last general election! It was a humiliating defeat you suffered. You came in fourth in a five-cornered fight, losing your deposit!
To recapture Malay support, you think you have to project yourself as an extremist. But it won’t work because you have become irrelevant!
Leaders who endure and last will know for sure that “loyalty lies in whether a leader is good at using talents.” If a leader uses the loyal wrongly, they will be disloyal. Even if the leader uses the disloyal correctly, they will be loyal. So it depends on the opportunity given to the followers selected.