GEORGE TOWN, Feb 8 — Racial identity cannot be used as a gauge to evaluate economic success because all the people have the opportunity to achieve progress, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
The prime minister said the government was striving to bridge the gap in economic achievement among the people as a measure to accelerate the progress of the country.
“The government will continue to strive to narrow the gap in the relationship between the poor and the rich so that the nation’s wealth can be shared. Do not equate racial identity with wealth and poverty,” he said at the Premier Unity Gathering at Dewan Sri Pinang here.
The gathering was organised in conjunction with the National Unity Day celebration and the 15th anniversary of the Penang State Consultative Goodwill Council (MPMNPP).
Dr Mahathir’s wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali; Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow; former Penang chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon; and MPMNPP chairman Tan Sri Mohd Yussof Latiff were also present at the event.
Dr Mahathir said the spirit of unity shown by Malaysians from the time of securing independence enabled the country to weather the racial riots that took place in 1969.
“Riots usually have a long-term impact but the 1969 riots in Malaysia only lasted a short time because the people were able to unite and form a coalition government,” he said.
He also said that the maturity of the people was very much evident in the 14 general election held so far, and in the last general election, the country remained peaceful despite a change of government.
Dr Mahathir said the peace, coupled with the geographical position of the country sheltering it from massive natural disasters, formed the best ingredient for the people to progress towards becoming the citizens of a developed nation by 2025.
“We aspire to become a developed nation. We are confident of attaining that so long as the people remain united; we can achieve that goal by 2025. We are a little late but better late than never,” he said. — Bernama