KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — If these lead to the neglect of minority groups, racial considerations in national policies would hamper the growth of the country, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
The former two-time prime minister said in an interview with Free Malaysia Today (FMT) that the government must recognize the multiracial fabric of Malaysia and factor this into its policy making.
“People will leave this country,” he said, if the racial considerations are prioritised.
“Whatever you say about the non-Malays, there is no doubt that they have contributed towards the development of this country. If you remove them, the growth of this country will be hampered, it will even turn negative,” Dr Mahathir added.
He said that much of Malaysia‘s economic growth can be attributed to non-Malays, who, despite being minorities in the country, have been able to thrive economically.
This rise, however, Dr Mahathir said, had also led to an economic gap.
“There’s a need to balance (the wealth) between the non-Malays and the Malays. Because as you know, even if it’s a mono-ethnic country, if there is too big a disparity between the rich and the poor, there will eventually be violence,” he said, justifying this with global movements to tackle income inequality.
“We have to bring (the Malays) up so that there is a balance in terms of distribution of the national wealth between all the different communities,” he added.
Dr Mahathir blamed this on those he believed were more interested in personal gain than duty in his failed unity government vision when he had been the interim prime minister.
He said this led to too many political parties being formed, especially for the Malays, and to unstable coalitions.
He said the previous success of Umno after Merdeka was because it was the only powerful Malay party and received substantial support.
However, Dr Mahathir said that after this, “many people found out that you can make money through politics”.
“When you are elected as an MP or to the state assembly, you get a good income. They see this as a means of earning an income, not as a service to the country. Of course, there is a lot of competition among them, with everybody wanting to become MPs or members of the state assembly, to become ministers, prime minister and the like.
“Everybody wants to become the PM or to form their own government. This has diverted their attention from the interests of the country,” he told FMT.
Dr Mahathir proposed a non-partisan government to replace the Pakatan Harapan administration that collapsed as a result of his resignation after he quit as PM in February last year.
He maintains that, after his previous party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), withdrew from PH, his resignation was necessary.
President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin of Bersatu was then appointed as the head of the Perikatan Nasional Government by the Prime Minister.