Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dr M: Public debate will destabilise Malaysia

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today argued that public debate on racial issues has hampered Malaysia's economic growth and will destabilise the country
The former prime minister also blamed his successor Tun Abdullah Badawi for the current racial tension, suggesting Malaysia was more united under his 22-year rule.

“I am worried because over the last five, six years, you don’t see the country growing at all. At the same time you see accusation on the part of all races. The Malays accuse the Chinese, the Chinese accuse the Indians and then the Indians accuse the Malays," Dr Mahathir told reporters after launching Malay rights movement Perkasa's inaugural congress here.

Perkasa is led by Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who wants the ruling Barisan Nasional government to stick to affirmative action policies and to protect the Malays. Ibrahim, who left Umno when it was led by Abdullah, was a deputy minister in the Mahathir Administration.

“Before that there were no such opposition because people were doing well and happy. The government was also doing everything possible and of course we are not perfect, but people were happy. If the people were not happy then they would have created a lot of problems.

“There was also no questions asked about who gets what and how much. If there are questions, we deal with it behind closed doors because if you go public then emotions are stirred and that is not good,” Dr Mahathir said.

The country's longest serving premier then took a dig at Abdullah, whom he ironically named as his successor in 2003.

“When I stepped down, it seems that the new government of Abdullah was more liberal and this is because the people want to have more freedom to discuss sensitive issues but as you can see today the relationship between the different races is worse than during my time,” the 84-year-old said.

Dr Mahathir stressed that Malaysians must decide between freedom of expression or economic stability.

“So the question is whether you want to have the freedom to discuss for the sake of discussing or you want to have stability in this country.

“If you want stability and growth in this country then it better to handle this thing as a sensitive issue but if you think that you want to be liberal like in some countries, they cannot grow because they are liberal and the situation in the country is always unstable,” he said.

He pointed out that public debate will result into anger and racial hatred.

“If there is public debate on racial issues then of course you will defend your race. The other side will defend his race and sometimes they don’t stick to facts. They say things which raise emotions, anger and hatred which will destabilize the country.

“I know all about freedom of speech but I know many countries which have freedom of speech and can never have any progress except for the highly developed countries. There they can curse each other and then adjourned to the pub and have a beer. But here, if you curse each other it, you don’t talk and becomes worse. Your daughter cannot marry his son and that sort of things. Here we are different from them,” Dr Mahathir said.

He also urged for there to a study to be conducted on how much the Malay community has benefited from the government’s economic policies.

“Position and statement are being made which have no factual basis. So if I am not correct, let’s do a proper study. You can have independent people to do a study. If you say the Malays have taken over everything, all the scholarships are going to the Malays and no places given to the non-Malays so let’s do a proper study of the whole thing. Don’t just focus on the government.

“The non-Malays should also stop making baseless allegation such as all scholarships are given to Bumiputeras and all government contracts are given to Bumiputeras. Is this true or not? It is not enough to just speak, must have facts. It is not based on facts. I want it to be based on facts. This is a multi-racial country.
We have share together because we live together. But if we make baseless accusations against one another, it will create instability. Instability will affect everybody,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also mocked Abdullah for only providing economic corridors but not economic growth during his time as prime minister which ended in April 2009, a year after humiliating losses at the 2008 general elections..

“The situation is way better than Pak Lah. During Pak Lah’s time, I could not speak at all. I was not invited by anybody. He is very liberal and democratic but people like me could not speak. However Najib did give me some opportunity to speak so he is good. Najib also has ideas (for the country)," he said, referring to Abdullah by his popular dimunitive.

“My hope for Datuk Seri Najib is more than the predecessor, Mr. Corridor. There are many corridors but what can you find in the corridors? The press should make a report on all the corridors of the five years, what has been done,” he added.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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