KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 – Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad defended his criticism of Malays, admitting that he was ashamed that they had been left behind by the forward-thinking Chinese community. Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister said the Malays were still lazy, citing the gender imbalance at institutions of higher learning where the majority was women. “The Malays are lazy, they are not interested in studying and revising. If we go to the universities, 70% of the students are women, where are the men?”
“They prefer to become Mat Rempit, that is why I said they are lazy,” Dr Mahathir told Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia in an exclusive interview published today. Earlier this week when launching a book, Dr Mahathir had lamented that Malays do not feel ashamed of failures anymore. He had admitted that he failed to change the mentality of the Malays in his 22 years as prime minister. “I spend 22 years trying to change the Malays but I admit I failed. However, there are a few success stories,” he said in his remarks after launching a book by Anas Zubedy on Thursday.
“If anyone asks me today, I would have to say Malays are lazy,” he had said. Dr Mahathir said although the Malays had been awarded places in institutions of higher learning, they did not make full use of their time to focus on their studies. “I am ashamed when I see the Chinese students studying three different languages but still have a better grasp of the English language compared to their Malay peers. “The Malays study two languages, Bahasa Malaysia and English, but they keep saying all right, that is enough, no need to learn English anymore.”
Dr Mahathir was referring to Putrajaya’s decision to abolish the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, which he had introduced in 2003. The former Umno president said it was disappointing that the Malays were dishonest and lacked integrity because they prioritised money more compared to the Chinese. Dr Mahathir said he was operating a bakery and had various staff working for him, including Chinese, Malay and Myanmar nationals. “However, what I am ashamed of is that when some Malay workers see money, they forget themselves and their values.
“They see money and if they can steal it, they steal it. The Chinese are not like this,” Dr Mahathir told the weekend edition of the paper, Mingguan Malaysia. He also raised the issue of Malay attitude when it came to debts, saying they could afford to repay their debts but refused to do so. “How many Malays are there who refuse to settle their debts? They receive scholarships and student loans but refuse to pay back. “This is not a question of being unable to, they have the money but just refuse to honour their commitments. We must be honest.”
Dr Mahathir said this was one of the factors why many contracts had been awarded to the Chinese community because they were more honest than Malays. “When we issue a contract, we give it to the Chinese because we know they will keep their word and do a good job. That is the weakness of the Malays, we lack honesty.” Dr Mahathir admitted that he had criticised the Malay community because he did not want to lie to himself and it was better to face up to reality. “I do not like to delude myself or lie to myself. I will call a spade a spade. If some people do not like what I say, it is their choice. “Why did I introduce the Look East policy in 1982? It was because I admired the Japanese for their attitude towards work,” Dr Mahathir said.