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Mahathir defends ‘lazy Malays’ remarks

KUALA LUMPUR — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has defended his remarks criticising the country’s Malays for being lazy, which triggered an online furore, saying he was ashamed that they had been left behind by the forward-thinking Chinese community.

Mahathir defends ‘lazy Malays’ remarks

Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Reuters file photo

KUALA LUMPUR — Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has defended his remarks criticising the country’s Malays for being lazy, which triggered an online furore, saying he was ashamed that they had been left behind by the forward-thinking Chinese community.

Dr Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister, said the Malays were still lazy, citing the gender imbalance at institutions of higher learning where the majority were women, as an example.

“The Malays are lazy, they are not interested in studying and revising. If we go to the universities, 70 per cent of the students are women, where are the men?” Dr Mahathir told the Utusan Malaysia newspaper in an exclusive interview published yesterday.

“They prefer to become Mat Rempit (Malay motorcycle gang members), that is why I said they are lazy,” Dr Mahathir told the weekend edition of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)-controlled daily.

Speaking at a book launch last Thursday, Dr Mahathir had lamented that he may have failed to transform the country’s ethnic majority into a hard-working race in his 22 years as Prime Minister.

He said Malays lacked good values and ethics and were not hard-working enough, leading them to trail behind the other races economically.

“I have tried for 22 years to help the Malays; maybe I have failed, although some may say that I did achieve some success,” he said in remarks made after launching a book by Malaysian author Anas Zubedy.

“If anyone asks me today, I would have to say Malays are lazy,” Dr Mahathir had said.

Dr Mahathir’s earlier comments had drawn spirited responses online, with some blaming his own policies for creating a culture of dependency on the government, while others questioned whether Dr Mahathir would be charged under the Sedition Act for his remarks, in reference to the government’s sedition dragnet, which has seen opposition politicians, an academic and a journalist being investigated or charged.

Dr Mahathir had said that although the Malays had been awarded places in institutions of higher learning, they did not make full use of their time to focus on their studies.

“I am ashamed when I see the Chinese students studying three different languages, but still have a better grasp of the English language compared with their Malay peers.

“The Malays study two languages, Bahasa Malaysia and English, but they keep saying ‘all right, that is enough, no need to learn English any more’.”

He was referring to the government’s decision to abolish the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, which he had introduced in 2003.

He had said that despite all the government had done to help them, the Malays still expected things to come easy and refused to adopt working cultures of more successful races, such as those in Japan, the nation integral to the Mahathir administration’s Look East policy.

“Values dictate if one race should succeed or not … like the Japanese, they are ashamed if they fail. That is why they are afraid to fail … but the Malays, they lack shame,” he said.

AGENCIES

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