KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's remark about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's lineage "can be interpreted" as racist, Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali said today.
Criticising the deputy prime minister's action as unbecoming of a high-ranking government leader, Ibrahim said he felt bringing up Dr Mahathir’s purported Indian lineage was controversial and deeply personal.
"I think it is open to interpretation," Ibrahim told reporters here when asked to state his position on the matter.
"But if you raised or mentioned the Kutty part, then it can be interpreted as racist," he added.
Despite that, Ibrahim later said that he did not feel Zahid's intention was racist, but was instead bringing up the issue "without thinking" just to attack Dr Mahathir.
"I don't think he had any racist intention when he said that. I think he just shot off his mouth without thinking and tried to use anything to attack Dr Mahathir as Umno's foe," he said.
On Sunday, Zahid claimed at a Kelana Jaya Umno division meeting that he was informed by the National Registration Department that Dr Mahathir’s name on his identity card was “Mahathir a/l Iskandar Kutty”.
Dr Mahathir’s lineage is believed to include ancestors from Kerala, India on the paternal side.
Zahid's action sparked uproar among Opposition politicians who demanded action against the deputy prime minister whom they accused of leaking classified information.
Dr Mahathir quit Umno last year and co-founded Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, which is now chairs. He is also chairman of the federal Opposition bloc, Pakatan Harapan.
Commenting on the matter, Ibrahim said Zahid should have exercised restrain and manage his emotions better.
“It should not be coming from someone who holds such a high position, a deputy prime minister.
“Heck, even a minister should not be saying such things. Zahid's action was unstatesman like,” he said.
Ibrahim then said his organisation may have been accused of being ultra-Malay or racist, but they have never made personal attacks nor have they ever raised issues about an individual's ancestry.
“I was called a racist, a far-right. So many things but I will tell you this, if I was in KDN, you'll never hear me say such thing,” he said, referring to the Home Ministry by its Malay initials.
Zahid is also home minister.