Former Prime Minister of Malaysia labels critic as “racist” in his recent swipe at the ethnic minority groups

Last week the former Prime Minister of Malaysia received a vicious backlash from the ethnic minority group. This happened because, in an interview on Indian broadcaster Thanthi TV, he said that Malaysian citizens of Chinese and Indian descent were “not completely” loyal to the country as they were resolute on “identifying themselves with their countries origin.”

The former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, has ignited controversy by labelling a critic P Ramasamy’s loyalty as “racist” in his latest verbal attack on ethnic minority groups. Mahathir, a towering figure in Malaysian politics known for his outspoken views, on Monday, accused a staunch critic of being a racist. According to Mahathir, the reason behind this remark was focusing only on the Indian affairs in the country.

Last week the former Prime Minister of Malaysia received a vicious backlash from the ethnic minority group. This happened because, in an interview on Indian broadcaster Thanthi TV, he said that Malaysian citizens of Chinese and Indian descent were “not completely” loyal to the country as they were resolute on “identifying themselves with their countries origin.”

After these allegations, P Ramasamy, a former deputy chief minister of Penang State who is also a long-time critic of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in a letter published in the local news portal Malaysiakini on Sunday said that Mahathir was the Prime architect of the divisive racial and religious policies that drove the ethnic group of Malaysia apart.

On Monday, Mahathir exclaimed that many times he had been accused of being a racist by Ramasamy. Mahathir also stated, “If the absence of ethnic Indians in the cabinet is seen as unfair, the reason [Ramasamy deems it unfair] clearly is that Ramasamy is still loyal to his Indian ethnicity.” He continued by saying, “This means Ramasamy is a racist who fights not only for Malaysia but also for ethnic Indians.”

The Southeast Asian nation is home to a diverse population comprising Malays, Chinese, Indians, and various indigenous groups. According to a deputy minister, Mahathir’s recent comments are a clear attempt at a political “rebound” or “comeback” after being defeated in the national polls of 2022. The former prime minister is known for his tenure from 1981 to 2003 and from 2018 to 2020.

Mahathir in the year 1970 published his book named “The Malay Dilemma” where he mentioned that the people of Malaysia have given too much space and liberty to the ethnic minority groups who seized economic power. This argument has been broadly cited as the main point of trigger for the horrifying racial riots of 1969 in Kuala Lumpur.

M Kulasegaran, who served as a minister during the tenure of Mahathir, asserted that the attacks were premeditated to uphold the support from among the Malays at the expense of the nation’s values of unity, diversity, and inclusivity. In a statement, Kulasegaran also said, “While it can effective in the short term, it can have severe consequences for social cohesion, tolerance, and the overall well–being of a nation.” He continued by saying, “Do not let Mahathir win because then Malaysia loses.”