KUCHING, Aug 10 — Newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has again denied claims that he is “ultra Malay”, saying although he fights hard for the community’s rights as well as for Islam, he believes in being fair to all.

In an interview with KTS Group’s print media and radio station last Saturday, Zahid also pointed out that he was raised by a Chinese foster father and had regarded his foster siblings as his own.

"I will not relate this if Ding (Lee Leong, executive editor-in-chief of Oriental Daily) did not ask this question. But now is the best opportunity to tell. I am not an ultra Malay. As a Malaysian leader, I have to be fair to everyone, to all Malaysians," he was quoted saying in a transcript of the interview on The Borneo Post today.

KTS Group operates The Borneo Post, Utusan Borneo, See Hua Daily News, Oriental Daily and TEA FM.

"I must tell Chinese journalists that I have a Chinese foster father. I sold ice-cream together with him way back when I was in Primary One to Primary Six … for six years.

"His children are like my own siblings. They are from the Hai Lam Clan, and we had lunch and dinner together at their kitchen. Until now, I still maintain my relationship with them.

"Am I anti-Chinese when I have a Chinese foster father?" asked the home minister.

Zahid was speaking during his first visit to Sarawak as Malaysia’s new deputy prime minister, a post he was appointed to less than two weeks ago in a controversial Cabinet reshuffle that saw his predecessor Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin booted out.

The leader went on to say that although he fights for the Malays and or Islam, he has never forgotten the other races and their religions and cultures.

"For that matter, all Malaysian leaders should have a balanced treatment of all different groups of people," he added, according to the interview transcript.

Asked to comment on comments on his Indonesian background, Zahid warned his detractors against using the issue to stir up racial tension.

"My parents were not born in Indonesia, but my grandfather and grandmother were. What is the problem here? We share the same culture, language and religion with Indonesia. I don’t mind talking about this, but I don’t want the information to be manipulated," he said.