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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 ― Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi denied today he was a racist for standing up for Malays, saying he never tried to deprive non-Malays of their rights even when the minorities "questioned" the constitutional rights of Malaysia's largest race group.
The Umno vice-president has come under fire for the way he champions Islam, the constitutional monarchy system, Malay rights and Bahasa Malaysia as the national language.
“They (other races) want equality and what we want is fairness. Why matters concerning our rights, which are clearly stated in the Constitution, should be questioned? Are we racist if we try to defend our rights?" he was quoted by state news agency Bernama as saying while opening the Parit Umno divisional delegates' meeting in Perak.
The Perak-born claimed the Malay institution faced real dangers as there were some who would take advantage of the rifts within the Malay community to seize power.
He was not reported to have named any group or individual as posing a threat.
In a warning however, the minister said the authorities would not hesitate to use the Sedition Act 1948 on those who would question the inherent rights and privileges of the Malays.
Ahmad Zahid has time and again invoked the use of the pre-independence law as a necessary tool for national security.
Critics however argue that the legislation, leftover from the country's British colonists, is being used to stamp out dissent and have repeatedly called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to speed up its repeal as he first promised two years ago.
The federal government has however stepped up its use of the sedition law to haul up a number of Pakatan Rakyat politicians, lawmakers, student activists, an academic and a journalist for airing views different from its own.