Dr M warns of those eager to see race ties broken


(MM) – As the religious row over “Allah” again descended into arson attacks today, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad blamed the non-Muslim community and opposition party DAP for encouraging racial discord in the hopes of displacing a wounded Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

The former prime minister also targeted the embrace of openness that began under the administration of his successor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, for encouraging the increased demand to abandon the political and economic power sharing established in the aftermath of the May 13, 1969 race riots.

“Taking advantage of liberalisation and the weakened BN government, the conflict between the races heated up. The situation in Malaysia is tense as never before.

“Malaysians by and large are not violent people. But for how long can Malaysia remain stable in the face of persistent violation of the good understanding and the sharing of power between the races,” Dr Mahathir wrote on his blog today.

The country’s longest-serving prime minister also said that BN has exacerbated the issue by persisting to move away from the power-sharing ideals from previous administrations to no avail, resulting in its worst electoral performances ever in Election 2008 and again five years later in Election 2013.

“Instead the DAP dangled before the Chinese the possibility of having both political and economic dominance,” Dr Mahathir said, having pointed out the party as the sole hold-out in attempts to form a unity coalition in the 70s.

Adding that its desire to win back the Chinese community has left BN with a precarious hold on Putrajaya, Dr Mahathir said even allies were joining efforts to unseat it from the corridors of power and put an end to the power-sharing arrangement.

Reminding readers that Malaysia was founded on diverse cultures and races that took significant effort to mould into the multicultural country that now exists, Dr Mahathir pointed out the outcome when the individual communities departed from the agreement to distribute power equitably among the races in 1969.

He added that no community should entertain the idea of racial dominance, whether over the economy or politics, and said the country must be shared equitably by all.

Although taking place over four decades ago, the spectre of May 13 continues to haunt racially-diverse Malaysia and is a common refrain from groups claiming insult over one issue or another.

Most recently, protesters at an Umno-organised rally earlier this month were reported to have held up banners threatening a recurrence of the deadly May 13 racial riots over an alleged slight by an opposition lawmaker against the prime minister.

Malaysia is also currently grappling with an intractable religious conflict between Muslims and Christians over the Arabic word for God, which today culminated in two Molotov cocktails being thrown at a church in Penang, just as how houses of worship were attacked in 2010 over the same issue.

The ongoing legal dispute between the government and the Catholic Church over its right to print the word “Allah” in the Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia section is pending before the Federal Court, which is set to hear arguments from both sides on March 5 before deciding on whether it will hear an appeal by the Catholic Church.

Christians make up close to 10 per cent of the Malaysian population, or 2.6 million.

Almost two-thirds of them are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as “Allah” in their prayers and holy book.