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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 ― Malay rights groups should strive to increase their knowledge and steer clear of following in the missteps of former leaders before touting “ketuanan Melayu” or Malay supremacy, the prime minister said today.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad added that it was pointless to entertain such notions when the community was still lagging others.
“No need to talk about Malay supremacy if you are someone else's coolie.
“We can be masters but we need knowledge, we need to work hard. We don't lie, we don't steal and we don't follow in the footsteps of the previous prime minister,” he told reporters after launching a talk on the future of industries here.
Dr Mahathir did not name anyone, but he was likely referring to his predecessor Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is facing criminal, corruption and money laundering charges for misappropriation of public funds.
The prime minister was responding to several groups that marched to Parliament earlier to express objections to calls for Malaysia to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The groups argued that ratification will infringe on the special rights accorded to the Bumiputera, though none are expressly stated as such in the Federal Constitution as cited.
On ratifying ICERD, Dr Mahathir said that further engagement with all stakeholders is crucial.
“We will ratify once we engage with all races in Malaysia as this is not a simple matter.
“Each race is sensitive to certain issues,” he said.
Yesterday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa, said that ratification of ICERD will be done with “reservations’, adding that the convention can be adopted while still adhering to existing laws and provisions.
* A previous version of this story contained errors which have since been corrected.