SHAH ALAM, Oct 6 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Malay community’s political discord and unwillingness to better itself were among reasons it has lost its dignity and standing.
He said that while Muslim must ask God for blessings as the religion dictates, God will not help those who do not first help themselves.
“In truth we have done many things wrongly, which has now resulted in us being pressured, our dignity in tatters, looked down upon by others,” Dr Mahathir said in his speech at the Malay Dignity Congress at Stadium Melawati.
The prime minister noted that in part due to the country’s democracy that allowed various parties to vie for the same group’s support, Malay political power was now split among six contenders and made insignificant despite the community being the largest racial group in the country.
“This is what we have done to ourselves, not what others have done to us. We broke up in opposition to one another, thus resulting in us having to depend on others to obtain victory.
“It also means we owe them, and fear that without their help we will not gain positions of their own. This led to the decline of Malay dignity,” he said.
Dr Mahathir recounted that although the peninsula originally belonged to the Malays, they eventually had to share it with others.
“Why did this happen? Because we could not bear all the burdens upon us as an independent race. An independent race must do everything by themselves, but we could not bear it and thus got others to come and do it for us.
“Others would not have come here if there were no opportunities. We depended on them until we became enslaved because they were more advanced, succeeding in this country as we did not seize the opportunities,” he said.
Noting that many of these foreigners are willing to shoulder jobs considered dangerous and dirty by the locals, Dr Mahathir added they do not remain in such jobs for long.
“They are willing to do what needs to be done to move ahead in life, leaving their children and grandchildren to move up from such professions.
“It is not because the Malays cannot do it, but they lack the willingness to get it done. What I say may not be easily accepted by those listening to me, but this is what is happening and will be inherited by our youths,” he said.
He also lamented the actions of some Malays who sold their lands for quick profit, which will cost them dearly in the long run.
“Look what happened to areas like Kampung Kerinchi, Kampung Penchala, and Kampung Abdullah Hukum. They were originally designated for Malays, but what has happened?” Dr Mahathir said.
Fast forward to the present, the prime minister said the Malays have still not learned their lesson, as other foreigners now repeat the same process by shouldering these same filthy and dangerous jobs.
“Our dignity is not due to opportunities, or helping hands from the government. Instead it depends on our accomplishments.
“If we become a race that can do everything, rule this nation properly, work hard and in the process become wealthy, then no one would be looking down upon us,” Dr Mahathir said.
He refused to believe sentiments that Malays are less capable than others but stressed that ability alone meant nothing without the will to follow through.
“If others can face the dangers, why not us? When we fail, how can we expect others to view us highly?
“We must make the efforts by ourselves to repair our dignity. This should be the congress’ message. God will not grant our prayers if we sit by and do nothing,” Dr Mahathir said.
The prime minister was presented with the resolutions produced by the congress’ five clusters.
Over 5,000 people attended the congress, co-organised by five universities and NGOs to look into the socio-political problems faced by the Malay community.
Prominent political and cultural figures in attendance included Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, and singer Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza.