Mahathir should declare whether  he is a Prime Minister who is Malaysian  first and Malay second or Malay first and Malaysian  second

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The reply of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in Parliament on Tuesday during question time on the issue of Malay unity is one of the saddest episodes of Malaysian nation-building in the past 43 years - for he distinctly came across as a   Prime Minister for the Malays and not for all Malaysians, regardless of race in his answer.

After Mahahtir had proclaimed Vision 2020 and the Bangsa Malaysia concept in February 1991, I do not think any Malaysian would have thought it possible that the Prime Minister of the country and least of all Mahathir himself  could be standing up in Parliament before a multi-racial citizenry defending and justifying the call for Malay unity.

From Mahathirís answer defending UMNOís call for Malay unity, one would have thought that time had stood still in the past 43 years since independent nationhood in 1957, and the unending process of creating  a greater Malaysian consciousness transcending race, religion or political beliefs among all Malaysians had never taken place!

Mahathir has done his own Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia the greatest disservice when he stubbornly persisted in placing the Malay unity advocated by  UMNO above national unity 43 years after Malaysian nation-building.

Mahathir should declare whether he is Malaysian first and Malay second or he is still Malay first and Malaysian second!

Mahathir has only himself to blame when in his 20th year as Prime Minister, his credentials and credibility as a model Malaysian who is Malaysian first and Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban second has come under a grave cloud.

By stubbornly pursuing UMNOís Malay unity call, Mahathir has precipitated a crisis of identity for all Malaysians -threatening to undo the Malaysian nation-building process of nearly five decades by resurrecting the obsolete concepts of Malay unity, Chinese unity, Indian unity, Kadazan unity and Iban unity as the route to  Malaysian nation-building.

Mahathir is behind times and behind the post-Merdeka generations of Malaysians who increasingly see themselves as Malaysians first and their ethnicity second - which was what Mahathir had once  advocated in his Vision 2020 and Bangsa Malaysia but now  abandoned.

I would urge Mahathir to pause and ponder before he continues in his present political course and decide whether he wants his two decades as the head of government remembered as a Prime Minister who is Malaysian first and Malay second or Malay first and Malaysian second.

If he is a Prime Minister who regards himself as a Malaysian first and Malay second, then he should be putting more of his energies to promote national unity rather than Malay unity!


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman