Tun M: Race Relations Worsen Due to Press Freedom?

Posted on June 24, 2011


Tun Mahathir Mohamad pix by Malaysia Breaking News.
Dr Mahathir says race relations today are not as good as when he was prime minister. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad blamed press freedom today for poor race relations which, he claimed, had worsened since he stepped down as prime minister in 2003.

He said that this was because press freedom has allowed racial and religious tension to ferment in Malaysia.

“Those days we didn’t talk so much about race, showing disrespect to others. Today we talk about race and religion, putting a wedge between the different races.

Race relations today are not as good as when ‘a dictator of 22 years’ was leading the country,” the former prime minister told a forum of chief executives today.

Dr Mahathir said that although he is made out to be a “Malay ultra and the Chinese are afraid of me,” he only managed to maintain Barisan Nasional’s (BN) two-thirds of Parliament in 1999 due to Chinese support.

“Chinese support gave me two-thirds majority despite the displeasure of Malays due to the black eye,” he said, referring to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s injury suffered in jail after he was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998.

The 1999 election was Dr Mahathir’s last as prime minister before being succeeded by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Despite leading BN to its best-ever showing in 2004, Abdullah was forced to resign in 2009 after BN ceded its customary two-thirds majority and five states in Election 2008.

The emergence of online media was credited as a main factor in the swing against the ruling coalition, especially in urban centres such as the Klang Valley and Penang, which saw Pakatan Rakyat (PR) win even in seats considered to be BN strongholds. (Excerpt from news report, “Dr M blames press for worsening race relations”  Malaysia Breaking News 22 June 2011).


Well! Perhaps, the various ethnic groups have not learned anything  fromthe past racial tensions or conflicts  occurred during the course of Malaysian history. Remember the Natrah Episode in Singapore in 1950’s, the 13th May tragedy 1969, and other minor racial incidents. Some analysts said this was  the end result of our so-called liberal or leeway eduction system  which did not give much emphasis on racial integration. They believed our forefathers insisted on racial accomodation without any common denominator.  Every ethnic or race followed its own way and destiny, promoting its own cultures and way of life. This  situation is so different as compared to that of Indonesia or Thailand. Over there, the people  have got something in common, pursued vigorously that common denominator such as language. In Indonesia Bahasa Indonesia is used as the unifier of hundred of ethnics. So does  Thailand where Thai language is the common denominator.

In Maalaysia every ethnic or race is very proud of its heritage as one puts it: You go your way and I go my way. We will survive.”  Yes, survive we will but at what and whose expense?  The nation is indeed in deep trouble! I beg to differ when Tun says “race relations today are not as good as when he was prime minister.” In  a way and comparatively, it might be true, but during Tun’s rule, racial issue was something like hiding some skeletons in the cupboard or sweeping the racial dust under the carpet. The tension was there and  had been latent all along while  slowly but surely gaining momentum.  all these racial skeletons  and dust were thrown wide open when Tun Abdullah took over. And today DS Najib has not been doing anything firm either. Under his rule all tht we have been hearing is “Warning, warning and warning” with the Malay cliche  echoed by his “security” minister  “Saya tidak akan teragak-agak untuk mengambil tindakan…

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