Guan Eng joins the fray in row over ‘rich Chinese’

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng speaks up about stereotyping, days after MCA president Wee Ka Siong accuses the party of keeping silent.

PETALING JAYA: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has joined the pushback against a remark by Dr Mahathir Mohamad about wealthy Chinese, days after MCA made a snide remark about his party’s silence.

Lim said in a post on his Facebook page yesterday that “Malaysia is not colour-coded” and that “skin colour does not guarantee that you are rich or poor. This is wrong”.

Melaka chief minister Sulaiman Md Ali had also joined the fray yesterday, saying it was unfair to stereotype by saying that only one community is rich without obtaining the proper facts.

The issue arose last week when MCA president Wee Ka Siong protested about Mahathir’s comment in an interview with a Hong Kong-based website. Mahathir had been quoted as saying that Malaysian Chinese were a “wealthy lot”, with a majority of them living in the cities and urban centres which he said was an “unhealthy trend”.

Wee said on Saturday that Mahathir should stop perpetuating the myth that Chinese Malaysians were rich, and that such unfair stereotyping was harmful to racial harmony.

The MCA president took a jab at DAP for not making any response to Mahathir’s remarks. “Is DAP now so afraid of telling Dr Mahathir off?” he said, in a reference to DAP’s support of Mahathir after he resigned as prime minister in February, and his subsequent attempt at regaining the position.

Lim made no mention of MCA’s comments yesterday but said: “The Chinese community is upset at this simplistic labelling as being rich when there are many Chinese who are not. There are also many non-Chinese who are rich. The colour of your skin is not the final determinant of your wealth.”

He said corruption was committed by culprits of all colours, and Malaysians must ensure that the government works “for us and our children by giving us equal opportunity”, and together fight “those who try to steal our children’s future”.

Meanwhile, DAP’s Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming said it was untrue that the majority of the Malay community still lived in rural areas, and that urban areas were dominated by non-Malays, especially the Chinese.

Adding that this may have been true “40 years ago”, he said the bulk of Malays now lived in urban areas.

Citing figures from the statistics department, he said 75% of the population lived in urban areas as of 2016.

“Of this 75%, a majority or 56% are Bumiputeras. In fact, the number of Bumiputeras who live in urban areas outnumber those who live in rural areas two to one.”

In 2016, he said, 13.2 million Bumiputeras lived in urban areas compared to 6.2 million in rural areas.

“In other words, almost 70% of the Bumiputera community (of which the Malay community is the majority) live in urban areas.”

In a statement today, he said such figures in 2020 would “definitely” show an increase for the percentage and number of Bumiputeras living in urban areas.

“Of course, Bumiputeras form the majority of rural dwellers but the larger point here is that the Bumiputera community, especially the Malay community, is overwhelmingly an urban community,” he added.

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