AT the end of this month Malaysia will be celebrating its 59th National Day. It is a time for Malaysians of all walks of life to rejoice. While in other parts of the world there are countries facing war or conflict, famine and pestilence such problems are fortunately absent from this country. Despite being a multiracial, multi-religious country, Malaysians have managed to live and to work together in peace and harmony all these years.
Yet there are opportunists who are willing to harm these warm relations between the difference races and religion simply in the name of politics. By now many are aware of the 25-second long video clip, which shows Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad disparaging Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak for his handling of the threats of the Islamic State terrorist network. What caught everyone’s attention was the former leader’s utterance of the derogatory word ‘keling.’
Tun Dr. Mahathir’s despise of the prime minister is no secret and he is of course entitled to his own opinion. However his choice of word was rather disappointing. As Malaysia’s former premier, Tun Dr. Mahathir should be acutely aware how insensitive the remarks are to the Indian community. But this is obviously immaterial to a man hell-bent on smearing the prime minister’s reputation at whatever cost. The political mileage was evidently more important even if it was at the expense of a particular race.
Markedly the video clip had surfaced as more details of Tun Dr. Mahathir’s new party emerged. His planned new political party is apparently opening its membership only to bumiputeras. The decision has gotten flak from many quarters since then. Notably it is an indication that Tun Dr. Mahathir’s party is not concerned with reform and governance, key platforms for the opposition. Instead he is eager to produce another party that is intended to further his personal interests and agenda.
Malaysians, particularly Malays should not be easily blinded by Tun Dr. Mahathir’s so-called good intentions. His new party and what it stands for will not bring about political advancement in the country. Despite his age and the supposed wisdom that comes along with it, his use of a derogatory word clearly shows that the former strongman is out of touch/ out of sync with the younger generation. Several surveys have shown that young Malaysians proudly identify themselves as Malaysians. Thus Tun Dr. Mahathir has failed to ascertain that his new party would not appeal to this demographics.
Six years ago the prime minister had launched 1Malaysia. A concept that captures the value of national unity regardless of race or creed for a better tomorrow. Diversity in Malaysia is a concept that remains relevant and extremely important to be embraced by all. Above all respecting one another despite our differences is imperative. Obviously Tun Dr. Mahathir does not share this sentiment if not he would have refrained from using a derogatory word simply to score political points.
Durjana Dewi is an independent analyst and Malaysian Access reader. Article written is strictly her personal view. Malaysian Access does not necessarily endorse the opinions given by any third party content provider.