Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dr M to minorities: Make sacrifices to prevent ‘discontent, rebellion’ of majority

Mahathir said it was important for the country’s minorities to embrace the policy and 'make little sacrifices' to prevent inciting discontent among the majority race. — AFP pic

Mahathir said it was important for the country’s minorities to embrace the policy and 'make little sacrifices' to prevent inciting discontent among the majority race. — AFP pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 — Malaysia’s minority groups must make “little sacrifices” to spread the distribution of wealth among all races, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today, backing the extension of a national policy favouring the dominant Bumiputera community.

The still-influential former prime minister threw his weight behind Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who announced last month the New Bumiputera Economic Agenda, saying such a policy was needed to ensure long term stability.

The 88-year-old also said it was important for the country’s minorities to embrace the policy and “make little sacrifices” to prevent inciting discontent among the majority race, a statement seemingly referring to the 1969 May 13 race riots.

”I read in the papers this morning that people are accusing Datuk Seri Najib of returning to favour the Bumiputeras (sic). I would like to say that is not the case, it is about creating equitable wealth among the races,” Mahathir said in his speech during a visit to the construction site of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) rail central station in Cheras here.

”If not, this will bring about discontent and rebellion from a certain race, much like what we have seen in the past... so it is better to make little sacrifices to correct the imbalances. This will be good for long term stability”.
This is the first time Dr Mahathir, who served as Malaysia’s prime minister for 22 years, has spoken positively about the Najib administration after the turbulent May 5 general election that saw the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition gave its worse ever electoral performance since 1969.
Since the general election in May, prominent blogs aligned to the party such as bigdogdotcom and outsyedthebox have become increasingly vocal with their criticism of Najib for his apparent courtship of the non-Malay electorate; they pressed him to recognise the role the Malays played in BN’s Election 2013 win.
On September 14, Najib announced the new Bumiputera Economic Agenda that will offer the country’s dominant community access to over RM30 billion in aid and contracts - an apparent continuation of affirmative action policies started under the New Economic Policy (NEP) he had pledged to remove when he took office in April 2009.
Born from the communal dissatisfaction that climaxed during the May 13, 1969 race riots, the NEP was designed ostensibly to lift the poorer sections of the Bumiputera Malay group in a bid to help it catch up to the economic progress of other communities, within the span of two decades.
Prior to today, Dr Mahathir, along with other hardline factions in Umno, the ruling BN’s mainstay, have accused Najib of pandering too much to non-Malays, particularly to the Chinese.
The Chinese, who make up nearly a third of Malaysia’s 28 million population and is the second-largest ethnic group in the country, had largely voted against the 13-member BN coalition in the May 5 polls.
In contrast, a large number of voters had cast their ballots for Malay-based Umno, resulting in the party nabbing the largest share with 88 out of the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat, and prompting Najib to drop reform and roll out pro-Bumiputera policies in what is seen as a move to reward the community for helping keep BN in power.
The high-profile announcement was made at the Shah Alam Universiti Teknologi Mara, a major Malay institutional symbol just a week before Umno kickstarted its domstic polls and was also seen as Najib’s bid to shore up conservative support within his party and avert a potential challenge to his leadership.
As nominations closed, Najib was returned to power unopposed after the party’s leaders agreed that any challenge for the two top posts would split Umno.
And while Dr Mahathir backed the call, it was only because he felt that there was no suitable leader to replace Najib.


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