Mahathir: Non-Malays must admit that M’sia belongs to the Malays

(Malaysia Chronicle) – The gloves have come off. Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is the man Umno is now pinning its hopes on to win the next general election, while current premier Najib Razak is lurking close behind with his 1Malaysia slogan to moderate the temperature in case Mahathir’s rhetoric gets overheated and racial tensions get out of hand before their party is ready to benefit from an all-out ethnic dogfight.

Buoyed by the Malay support shown to Umno at the Tenang by-election, Mahathir is striking while the iron is hot.

“This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu but this cannot be said because it will be considered racist.  We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu,” Malaysian Insider reported the 85-year old as telling a seminar entitled “Malay race and the future” on Tuesday.

Good cop, bad cop ploy

On the surface, it appeared that his words completely contradicted Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan, which attempts to portray a sense of multi-racial unity. But pundits warned that was just a ploy by the Umno elite.

“It is not so simple. Najib and Mahathir are more friends than enemies. It is the classic bad cop, good cop role-play. Mahathir does not mind playing race-champion for the Malays. It was what brought him up in politics. Najib has much less guts, so he settles for the wishy-washy 1Malaysia, and this is why until today no one know what 1Malaysia means. Ultimately, as long as Umno stays in power both men and their families gain and that’s why they don’t mind blurring lines when it suits their purpose,” PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

Indeed, 1Malaysia has been falling apart precisely because the non-Malays it attempted to attract have wised up to Najib’s double-game.

His speeches at last year’s Umno general assembly were every bit as fiery and racist as Mahathir’s was today. Nonetheless, his minders and the BN media have been promoting the slogan as a panacea for all non-Malay grievances.

But at the recent by-election in Tenang, Chinese voters turned their backs on it and voted for the Islamist PAS instead.

Pundits say this may be the reason why Mahathir and Umno have thrown caution to the winds. At Tenang, there was a two percentage point swing in the number of Malay votes for Umno.

“They know they can’t get back the Chinese vote at all. The erosion began with Perak crisis and it has become worse. Maybe Najib also didn’t realize this, but bigger the size of his Economic Transformation Program the more the Chinese lost faith in him. The small and medium businessmen know how to count very well. They know RM1.4 trillion is really pie in the sky and they been privately ridiculing Najib for daring to announce such grandiose but hollow plans,” said Tian.

Malay supremacy

Meanwhile, Mahathir told the non-Malays to admit that the country belonged to the Malays, implying that they had to accept a lower status.

According to him, Malaysia’s forefathers gave the Chinese and Indians citizenship because they expected the communities to respect Malay sovereignty.