By P Ramasamy
Who says that with age comes wisdom? As one ages, it might bring out the worst streaks in a person. Mahathir Mohammed might be a person with years of political experience but one devoid of wisdom and humanity.
As a former prime minister, he should know that the word “keling” is derogatory and disparaging to Malaysian Indians.
He cannot utter “as the keling say podah” (as the “keling would say. get lost”) to pour scorn on the efforts of Najib Tun Razak to curb terroism in the country. While he can take umbrage with Najib, he should not have used the word “keling” in his remark.
The word by itself is not derogatory as it refers to an ancient historical place. However, the use of the word against Indians is seen as belittling or putting down members of the Indian community.
Mahathir is well aware of this. If he had used the word Indian or Tamil then it would not have elicited controversy.
Mahathir himself is not pure Malay in ethnic terms. His grandfather was a Keralite Muslim. He came to this country from Kerala, India.
To date Mahathir has passed himself off as a true Malay. But he is not. The term “mamak keling” has been used derogatively against him countless times. When he chose to challenge the former prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman in the 1960s, he was dismissed as not being a true Malay.
The use of the word “keling” by Mahathir is more of a reflection of his own insecurity and the perpetual psychological need on his part to be “accepted” as Malay rather than “mamak keling”.
It also shows his own frustrations about removing Najib from power. It is this pathological need to bring Malays together, in the form of an ethnic bumiputera party, that is driving Mahathir crazy.
I really wonder how a man like Mahathir can be taken seriously in Malaysian politics if he has nothing but contempt for non-Malays in the country. How can civil society leaders welcome his new party if his thoughts are alien to a society that we ought to build.
The word “keling” or any other derogatory words would not derail the Indian community from claiming itself its rightful share in the country.
Mahathir should remember that the mess we are in today was created by him when helmed Umno for more than two decades.
If he is responsible for what ails Umno, then how is he going to save the party? Perhaps he has started thinking seriously by saving his children!
P Ramasamy is deputy national chairman of the DAP.
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