KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has insisted the non-Malays in the country should have been assimilated into the Malay community, to form the “Bangsa Malaysia” concept of nations he envisioned.

Pointing to neighbouring Indonesia, Dr Mahathir said other ethnic groups such as the Chinese there have “successfully” assimilated and embraced the local culture but not in Malaysia.

“But when the migrants wished to retain their identities and going as far as to dispute the ownership of this country to be not a Malay country but a multicultural one, that meant we have lost our country,” he said in the Keluar Sekejap podcast, referring to the Malays.

He justified his claim by pointing to how part of Malaysia was historically Tanah Melayu, and declared the Malays to be the pioneers of the land.


“The Malaysians I defined are the Malays,” he said, referring to the nation he envisioned.

“They are Indonesians because they have embraced the way of living of the Indonesian people. They do not call themselves Indonesian Malays or Indonesian Chinese but in Malaysia, we got Malaysian Chinese, Malaysian Malays.

“Why do [the non-Malays] want to retain their different cultures, languages and alienate themselves from the locals?” he asked.


Earlier this year, Dr Mahathir caused controversy by claiming that the majority Malays in the country “did not benefit” from the multi-ethnic fabric of the country.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Dr Mahathir said multi-ethnicism in the country has created a meritocracy where everything went towards those who were most capable, best trained and financially secure — further claiming that this means only non-Malays have benefited from this.

In the podcast, Dr Mahathir also claimed non-Malays refused to assimilate with local culture as they “looked down” on the Malays.

“They refused assimilation, not that we insisted. We wanted them to become Malay but they looked down on us and refused to be recognised as Malays,” he said, noting that there were other ethnic groups such as those from the Middle East who have successfully assimilated.

“Malaysian first means that one has unshackled themselves from their country of origin,” he said.