Dr M defends ‘racist’ remark, says Dong Zong only ever fought for the Chinese

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad speaks during the 21st anniversary celebration of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang August 13, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad speaks during the 21st anniversary celebration of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang August 13, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

SEPANG, Aug 13 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has doubled down on his criticism of Chinese educationist organisation Dong Zong being “racist”, arguing that its focus has always been singular.

Instead, he urged the group not to abuse freedom of speech, as instigating people to fight one another is illegal. 

“If you look at the background of Dong Zong, it has never fought for Malaysians. It has only fought for one race in this country,” Dr Mahathir said here following the 21st anniversary of the KLIA airport. 

As Malaysia is a plural country, he said one must also think about the feelings of other ethnic groups.

“When we do something, we must think of what would the other races say. And if they are not happy you should try and accommodate.

“But Dong Zong has never said a word about Malaysia. It has always been about Chinese education,” Dr Mahathir added. 

He cited the instance during his first tenure as prime minister, when the idea of Sekolah Wawasan was mooted to bring students of national and vernacular schools together in one place, but was opposed by Dong Zong at the time. 

“They objected to that, because it would cause Malay children to be mixed with Chinese children. 

“It is a very racist way of thinking. What is wrong with Malays, Chinese and others going to school together?” Dr Mahathir said, adding that such an assembly where all three school types were together is “anathema” to Dong Zong. 

He further stated that if the education organisation continued to instigate and incite people to fight against each other, it would be going against the law. 

“We have freedom of speech, but we are always sensitive about non-instigating people of different races to fight against each other. 

“But Dong Zong is only taking about one community, forgetting that this a multiracial country,” Dr Mahathir said. 

However, when asked if Dong Zong ought to be banned, the prime minister said he does not know as it is up to the police to decide. 

On Saturday, the organisation’s chairman Tan Tai Kim said a petition would be launched to oppose the teaching of khat calligraphy in vernacular schools, citing potential fears of Islamisation. 

In response, a counter petition was launched yesterday calling upon the government to ban Dong Zong as a racist organisation, which has since gathered over 65,000 signatures in support.