Dr M's remarks against Indian community garner backlashes

16 Jan 2024 11:28am
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

SHAH ALAM – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's recent comments on Malaysian-Indians ‘not being completely loyal’ have ignited a wave of criticism from various leaders and netizens on social media platforms.

In a recent interview with Thanthi TV, a Chennai-based Indian satellite television channel, the former prime minister asserted that Malaysia belonged to those who played a role in building the nation, leading to a chorus of disapproval.

Dr Mahathir went on to state that the Indian community in Malaysia was not entirely loyal to the country, suggesting a continued attachment to their countries of origin.

"There are people who consider themselves (as) Indians or Chinese. They do not speak the local language at all. They have their own schools, their own language, their own culture.

"So, they are different from the original people who founded this country," he said during the interview on Jan 11.

Dr Mahathir's comments had since received backlashes from leaders and social media users, in what they deemed as divisive comment from the former premier.

Damansara MP Gobind Singh Deo stated that questioning loyalty based on language and cultural practices was inappropriate.

He emphasised Malaysia's multi-ethnic identity, where citizens, despite diverse backgrounds, remained loyal to the country.

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Meanwhile, Unity Minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang expressed disappointment, advocating national integration over assimilation.

“I am disappointed and strongly condemn the statement issued by Dr Mahathir who claimed that ‘Indian society in Malaysia is still not completely loyal to this country because they identify with their country of origin’,” he said.

He suggested that veteran politicians should promote unity rather than incite tensions.

Former Klang MP Charles Santiago criticised Dr Mahathir, urging action against divisive statements. He emphasised the substantial contributions of the Indian and Chinese communities to Malaysia's socio-economic and political development.

Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) President, Datuk Dr. Dominic Lau Hoe Chai, criticised the statement for hurting the feelings of Malaysia's multi-ethnic population. He urged unity and adviced against sowing differences that could fracture the spirit of the Malaysian nation.

Kota Kemuning Assemblyman Preakas Sampunathan rejected racial rhetoric, characterising Mahathir's statement as an insult to those who love their homeland. He called for unity, emphasising Malaysia's diversity.

Social media users also voiced their opinions, with some questioning the loyalty measure to a country and expressing disappointment about the former prime minister's remarks.

A user @geethaprem69 said “Being culturally inclined and religious beliefs have nothing to do with nationalism. We still have patriotism and are proud to be Malaysian.”

Another user, @imman573, acknowledged that there might be a few who were disloyal, but the majority were loyal and patriotic to Malaysia.

@aufoo stated “Who are the ones to pay the most taxes to help develop the nation? Without sufficient funds, the government will collapse.”

In the meantime, @norazizah226 also commented “Pity the Indians. What are the feelings of those who have been living in Malaysia for a long time when they are said to be disloyal? Tun really wants to see the racial division.