KUALA LUMPUR — Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday once again lashed out at the Malay community in his country, accusing them of lacking good values and being lazy.
Dr Mahathir said the country’s ethnic majority was not hardworking enough and therefore uncompetitive, causing them to trail behind the other races economically.
This also resulted in the Malays being driven out from the main cities to the rural interior.
“Like Alor Setar (the capital of Kedah) and now there are no more Malays there when it was them that raised the city. This is because the Malays are poor and they have no money so they sell their land. So what happens is now they stay outside the city,” said the former leader at a book launch.
Dr Mahathir, who served as prime minister for 22 years and is regarded as the country’s “Father of Modernisation”, admitted that he may have failed to transform the country’s ethnic majority so that they become more hardworking.
Despite all the government had done to help them, Dr Mahathir said the Malays still expected things to come easily and refused to adopt working cultures of more successful races, such as those in Japan.
Japan was an integral part of the Mahathir administration’s Look East Policy. The policy was to push Malaysia to follow the East Asians in becoming diligent, hardworking and loyal.
“I have tried for 22 years to help the Malays. Maybe I have failed, although some may say that I did achieve some success,” said Dr Mahathir.
“Values dictate if one race should succeed or not … Like the Japanese, they are ashamed if they fail. That is why they are afraid to fail … But the Malays, they lack shame.”
Dr Mahathir said the Malays are also bankrupt of honesty. He claimed of first-hand experience in the matter when his bakery company, The Loaf, tried in the past to sack several managers for stealing money from the restaurants.
He said the establishment of his bakery was to help the Malays by giving them job opportunities but instead they stole his money.
“That is the problem with the Malays. They don’t have honesty,” he added.
Dr Mahathir is a staunch defender of race-based affirmative action policies as prescribed by the New Economic Policy, an economic model mooted in 1971 to close the socio-economic gap between the largely-urban Chinese and the rural Malays as well as other indigenous Bumiputera.
Ironically, however, the former prime minister has admitted in the past that the programme has made the Malays more complacent, while noting that the system had been abused to enrich only a few elites who were close to the ruling party.
But the former prime minister has continued to defend the policy, saying it was still needed to help the Malays compete and bridge the income disparity among the races.
Dr Mahathir has also been at the forefront of criticism against Prime Minister Najib Razak and his administration for the past year. He has accused Mr Najib of corruption linked to state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and has launched a new party, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PBBM) that he said would ally with the opposition to ensure straight fights against the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition at the next General Election, which has to be called by 2018.