PUTRAJAYA, Dec 29 — Despite his party’s aspiration to be the new champion for Bumiputera interests, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tonight said the country’s Malays and other indigenes must learn how to “save themselves”.
The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman said the party can be a temporary shield for the country’s majority demographic group, but urged them to become masters of their own fate.
“Politics, political power and political parties cannot protect us. We have seen what happens when a political party becomes too strong but it was this political party that has placed us in danger,” he said in his keynote address at PPBM’s annual general meeting — its second since being founded but its first since becoming part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition that defeated the Barisan Nasional in GE14.
Dr Mahathir said people who are financially successful need not fear threats.
“But how do we achieve success and become rich? We are capable, but if we don’t use our capabilities we won’t succeed.
‘Bersatu knows how we can succeed, save ourselves, the Malays and other Bumiputera. But I will not elaborate how we can change the fate of the Malays and Bumiputera here. All we ask for is trust and the willingness to follow our proposals.
“Believe me, only the Malays can save themselves,” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir said PPBM is positioning itself to champion Malay and Bumiputera issues now that Umno, which has touted itself the country’s biggest political party, has been fallen from power and losing leaders and members.
“Which party can they rely on? If not Bersatu, which party? Could it be PAS? I don’t want to comment. Choose PAS. It’s not my choice,” he said.
He said Umno is fractured and its remaining leaders at loggerheads with each other on how best to save their party.
Dr Mahathir, who is also prime minister, said the efforts to return Umno to glory was a pipe dream as its leaders’ greed had destroyed it.
But Dr Mahathir also said it would be unfair to blame the Malay population for the party’s mistakes, adding that the racial group were the “victims”.
“The real victims are the Malays and the natives of this fortunate country. They have lost their champion. Should PPBM, which was established to save the Malays and other Bumiputera keep quiet and allow the destruction of the Malays and the Bumiputera to continue?
“Although we are not Umno’s heirs, we have a responsibility for the Malays and the Bumiputera,” he said.
He then asked if it is “racist” to seek to redress the imbalance in a country where the rich-poor divide is sharpened by racial lines.
“In a single ethnic nation when the wealth disparity is very high, history has recorded strife and civil war leading to the destruction of the country. What more a multi-ethnic country where the poor come from one race and the rich from another.
“These two factors are a dangerous combination. It can lead to riots that can leave a serious and deep impact. It may not happen but we shouldn’t discredit the possibility,” the world’s oldest head of government said.