PETALING JAYA: Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has criticised the government for bringing criminal charges against a Cambodian businesswoman and her son over a viral video in which she described Malays as lazy.
Zaid said the charge was unnecessary since it was merely a general statement and did not apply across the board to every Malay person.
“Anyway, Malays have been described as lazy by many other luminaries before, including Frank Swettenham, Munshi Abdullah (and) Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Why is the government so childish and unnecessarily sensitive? It’s an opinion. Malaysia must grow up. We must be able to live with freedom of speech.
“Freedom of speech is given to us, so we must bear to hear what we don’t like. If it is only to protect what we want to hear, then we don’t need that law conferring us the right to free speech,” he said in a posting on X.
Swettenham, the first resident-general of the Federated Malay States, called the Malays lazy in his book, “Malay Sketches”.
Munshi Abdullah, often called the “father of modern Malay literature” and whose real name was Abdullah Abdul Kadir, claimed Terengganu men were lazy in “Kisah Pelayaran Abdullah”, a book he authored.
Former prime minister and Umno president Mahathir has described Malays as lazy on multiple occasions.
In 2014, he told Mingguan Malaysia that the Malays were “lazy and not interested in studying”. He was also reported to have said that he had failed in his attempts to “change the Malays” during his initial tenure as prime minister which lasted 22 years.
Four years later, as Bersatu president and during his second stint as prime minister, Mahathir reportedly said Malays were unwilling to work hard and lackadaisical in managing their responsibilities.
“I dare to say that we are lazy,” he was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.
Yesterday, Mariyah Yaakob, 47, claimed trial to making inflammatory statements by describing Malays as lazy in a viral video.
Her son, Ezuan Hafsham Mohd Hisyam, 22, also claimed trial to improper use of network facilities by knowingly using TikTok to create and spread a video showing his mother making the impugned statements.