SHAH ALAM: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today defended his presence at the Malay Dignity Congress, saying that as a Malay he had the right to attend it, despite calls for him to give the event a miss.
The prime minister also said the event today was not about political parties or “certain groups”, adding that what will be discussed revolved around Malay dignity.
“As a Malay, I have the right to attend.
“I want to remind certain parties that I usually speak in front of non-Malays, but no Malay tells me not to attend non-Malay functions,” he said when opening the event here.
Mahathir, who is also Pakatan Harapan chairman, said he believed that today’s gathering is necessary for the Malays to take action and “improve our situation”.
“We have made many mistakes to the point that our dignity is mocked.”
He said when the country achieved independence, the Malays were the largest group, making 60% of the population.
However, the community did not appreciate this and split into “six small groups” which could not obtain even 50% support of the people.
Mahathir also said that the Malays fought among themselves till the point that they needed to rely on others to win in an election.
“We become afraid if we don’t get their support and cannot win. We have gambled the power given to us.
“That’s why our dignity is mocked and we are looked down upon.”
Mahathir said Malays can organise multiple congresses like this but Malay dignity will still be looked down upon if the community doesn’t change its attitude.
To recover their dignity, Malays must show their abilities.
“Our dignity can only be restored by our own efforts. We can,” he added
“When we give contracts, they are sold; when we give Approved Permits (APs), they are sold.
“Can we be rich by selling licences? We can get some money for a while but it won’t last long.
“Doing business can help. The government can give loans for capital but these must be used well.
“We claim we are not good in business. If not good, we will provide training. We will have business courses, from the school level.
“Children in kindergartens must learn about money. It’s not only to exchange for goods but as capital to earn more money.
“If we just use money to spend, we won’t achieve success.”
Mahathir said there were successful Malays but the number was still small.
Malays selling their land
Mahathir said in Alor Setar only a few shops were owned by the Malays. The rest were owned by the Chinese and Indians.
“Why is it that Malays cannot do this? They prefer to work with the government. They see business as being lowly, not on the same level as salaried staff in government service. When they retire, they can get a pension.
“People who do business have no pension but can acquire wealth. They become rich and we become poor. Do you think that the poor can control the rich? Not possible.
“The rich will buy what is owned by the poor.”
Mahathir regretted that Malays, who were mostly poor, were selling their land.
“Today, where is Kampung Kerinchi, where is Kampung Abdullah Hukum, where is Kampung Penchala, in Kuala Lumpur? All have been sold and Malays live far from the city where the cost of living is lower.
“But when the cities expand to the outer areas, we again sell the land.
“Where else will we go but to the jungles?
“I plead with you. Don’t sell your land. We will find ways to get returns on land owned by us. We have ways to help. Landowners can turn their land into capital.”
Mahathir also spoke of foreign workers from Bangladesh and the Philippines working in supermarkets and restaurants.
He asked why locals could not do these jobs.
“If they are 3D (dangerous, dirty and difficult) jobs, we don’t want.
“The salary is enough. Now, the salary is more than RM1,000. Even if it’s RM2,000, we still claim it’s not enough.”