Ex-minister says ‘can’t wait’ to be like Singaporean Malays, though Malaysian Malays have full government control

DAtuk Zaid Ibrahim says Malays here are ‘first-class citizens at least on paper’ but many have not been able to reap the benefits of first-class treatment because they do not have a good government with honest leaders. ― File pic
DAtuk Zaid Ibrahim says Malays here are ‘first-class citizens at least on paper’ but many have not been able to reap the benefits of first-class treatment because they do not have a good government with honest leaders. ― File pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 ― Calling it “absolute nonsense”, former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim rubbished claims that Malays in Malaysia were marginalised, saying the race formed the biggest demographic group in the country and have “full control” of the government and its machinery.

The lawyer-turned-politician compared Malaysia’s treatment of Malays to those in Singapore and said those in the island republic did not receive any “special treatment” but seemed to enjoy a better qualify of life because their leaders practised transparency and meritocracy.

“In Malaysia, Malays are happy to let their leaders make all the money as long as they promise to ‘defend’ bahasa, bangsa and agama,” he said in a blog post yesterday, using the Bahasa Malaysia words for “language, race and religion” respectively.

“I can’t wait for Malays here to be like Singaporean Malays,” he added.

Zaid’s latest post was in response to a report by a news portal which he said had incorrectly interpreted his tweet last week suggesting that he did not mind Malays here being marginalised like in Singapore, as long as they do not become extremists like the Taliban.

He clarified that he meant Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is making Malays to be like the Taliban, but if Malays here grew to become like Malays in Singapore, then Zaid said he would be happy to support the embattled prime minister.

Zaid also said that Malays here are “first-class citizens at least on paper” but many have not been able to reap the benefits of first-class treatment because they do not have a good government with honest leaders.

“Our leaders are free to sell government assets cheaply or expensively depending on how they have arranged the ‘take out’.

“If discovered, they can say it was for the party, for elections or even fisabilillah (“for the sake of Allah”),” he said.

He conceded that in some ways Singaporean Malays are “worse off than” their counterparts in Malaysia as they are not accorded “special treatment.

However, he said their leaders are clean and the transparent system of government there means it is a lot more difficult to siphon off public money for private use.

“That’s what Malays here need. Good government with good, clean and honest leaders,” he said.

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