Dr M: Public debate will destabilise Malaysia

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani, The Malaysian Insider

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.