Dr M apologises for using derogatory ‘keling’ term

Mahathir said he has been using the word since he was young, and insisted he had not meant to offend anyone in using the racial epithet. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Mahathir said he has been using the word since he was young, and insisted he had not meant to offend anyone in using the racial epithet. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

PETALING JAYA, April 10 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said sorry today for his recent remark that included the word “keling”, a derogatory term to describe Malaysians of Indian ethnicity.

Dr Mahathir said he has been using the word since he was young, and insisted he had not meant to offend anyone in using the racial epithet.

“I would like to apologise to the Indian community for using the term ‘keling’... I apologise if I have caused them any problems.”

“I never meant to insult anybody, but when I was a small boy, we used to use that word. But now, it is considered derogatory,” he said.

The former prime minister initially dismissed the indignation caused by his use of the slur, claiming the term did not have negative connotations in his home state of Kedah.

Dr Mahathir used the term on Saturday while responding to reports that the Election Commission (EC) would prohibit his pact’s candidates from using PKR’s logo in the general election.

The EC has since clarified that it was not preventing PH candidates from doing so.

Today, Dr Mahathir said PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is prepared to sign 700 credential letters to allow all of the pact’s hopefuls to use her party’s symbol.

He then took a parting shot at the EC, saying that the use of the PKR logo will be approved by the party rather than the polls regulator.

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