Malaysiakini : COMMENT | Dr Mahathir Mohamad's
mask slipped last week. So, when will he stop stoking the fires between
the different religions and races, and just slither gracefully into
Although some would like to return and invest in the country of their
birth, they will not return while irresponsible leaders, like Najib and
Mahathir (and those who follow in their footsteps), are still around.
His supporters are just as bad. They forget that he is
a divisive influence and a master manipulator and they ignore his
selective amnesia, like the time he claimed he could not recall if he was in Malaysia or in Beijing when the order to attack Memali was given in November 1985.
Mahathir is not the only Malaysian leader who fails to realise that his deeds, and words, have consequences. When
a missile fails to hit its intended target, falls short of the
objective and hits a village, ordinary people are injured or killed, and
their property destroyed. After
French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Islamic radicals for their
terrorist acts, Mahathir's remark was like a rocket attack that failed
to hit its target.
Mahathir's gaffe has caused Malaysians to be treated with suspicion in most parts of the civilised world. Some
Malaysians working and living abroad said that their friends and work
colleagues wanted to know what Mahathir meant by his reckless tweet, in
which he said, "Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of
French people for the massacres of the past". A former civil servant berated me for censuring Mahathir and said, "Why didn't you read his other tweets? Why pick on that one remark?"
'A former PM should choose his words wisely...'
I said that I had read his entire blog
post a few times and maintained that he was acting irresponsibly. A
former PM should choose his words wisely because they will inspire some
deranged people. Most people will think he's an idiot.
I then asked, "Do you think you can reason with a terrorist?"
I added, "Do you think an extremist would have read Mahathir's other remarks and tried to rationalise his responses?"
More silence before a curt response: "You're being unfair to Mahathir."
did not tell this former civil servant that my inbox was full of
questions from friends, most of whom live in Western Europe and America. One
said, "Did Mahathir really say that? I admired him for standing up to
the West, but this is unacceptable. With his careless remark, he has
just shot down the image of Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation."
said, "My friends at work know I am from Malaysia. I wear the tudung,
so they know I am Muslim. Ever since Mahathir made his remarks, there
has been a frosty atmosphere at work."
third said, "After each Islamic terrorist attack, my friends say that
only evil people will kill in the name of the religion, but now they ask
me why my former PM is advocating violence." Mahathir's remarks
have hurt Malaysia's reputation, in the same way that the convicted
criminal, Najib Abdul Razak, who stole from the rakyat, has almost
bankrupted the nation. The rakyat has to deal with the effects of our
leaders' actions and minimise the damage done.
So, how do other
nationalities see us? The common theme in other countries is our food.
We have a wide variety of good food, but only serious observers of
Malaysia will have commented on the more fundamental aspects which
plague the country. Malaysia is touted as a multicultural nation,
and as Mahathir admitted, "...we have avoided serious conflicts between
races because we are conscious of the need to be sensitive to the
sensitivities of others..."
However, this has not stopped one MP
from making disparaging remarks about the Bible, and it was several
weeks before he apologised. Woe betides any non-Muslim who dares to
criticise the Muslims. Many countries have laws which prevent
discrimination, but in Malaysia, affirmative action policies pit
bumiputeras against non-bumiputeras.
There may not be open and
violent opposition about these discriminatory policies, but there is a
quiet resentment about non-bumiputera Malaysians who are denied many of
the benefits that bumiputeras enjoy. The polarisation of the different Malaysian racial groups exists even in overseas universities.
an embassy function in one of the North American cities, an established
Malaysian chemical engineer hoped to contribute to the Malaysian
economy by investing in a manufacturing facility in Malaysia. A
minister told him to discuss the matter with his aide, and the ensuing
conversation followed along the lines of "What's in it for me?" Needless
to say, the engineer terminated his plan to return.
Malaysians left the country to discover their true potential overseas,
where they could flourish without the accompanying baggage of the 4Rs -
race, religion, royalty and rasuah (corruption).
many of these displaced Malaysians have turned their backs on Malaysia.