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Dr Mahathir Faces Backlash Over Comments On Malaysian Indians

Dr Mahathir Faces Backlash Over Comments On Malaysian Indians

The backlash has been swift and widespread, with netizens, MPs, and civil society leaders expressing their unhappiness and feeling offended.

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Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has ignited a firestorm of controversy with his recent comments on the Malaysian Indian community.

The public is now questioning whether Dr Mahathir’s divisive statements could lead to further ethnic and religious tension in the country.

The remarks, made during an interview with Thanthi TV, a Tamil news channel in Chennai, India, have been met with widespread condemnation across social media platforms.

In the interview, Dr Mahathir suggested that the Malaysian Indian community was not “completely loyal to Malaysia,” provoking a strong backlash from netizens, members of Parliament, and civil society leaders.

READ MORE: Dr Mahathir Grilled By India’s TV Host, Insists Country Only Belongs To Those Who Founded It

Dr Mahathir’s Remark: Unity or Division?

Critics have accused him of fostering division rather than promoting the unity and harmony he was once known for during his tenure as prime minister.

The National Unity Minister, Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang, joined the chorus of voices criticizing Dr Mahathir, emphasizing the responsibility of political leaders to be role models for unity.

Questions are being raised about the appropriateness of Dr Mahathir’s comments, which touch on sensitive issues of ethnicity and religion, and whether they could incite hatred.

The public discourse is now centred around whether Dr Mahathir should apologize for his statements and if legal action should be taken against him for potentially seditious remarks that could threaten national peace and security.

Meanwhile, MUDA also firmly condemns the racist statements made by Dr. Mahathir.

The political party pointed out that prominent Malaysian Indians, such as Tun V. T. Sambanthan, were touted as among the key players in the nation’s independence movement.

Datin Janaky Athi Nahappan, a woman who has significantly contributed to our country’s struggle for independence, represents the loyalty and significant impact of the Indian community in Malaysia.

MUDA regretted that this is a reality that Dr Mahathir ignored with biased and outdated reasoning.

It said that Such ignorance from a former leader is disappointing and blatant disregard for our nation’s cultural and ethnic diversity.

Unravelling the Ancestral Controversy of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Compounding the controversy is the fact that Dr. Mahathir himself has been subjected to attacks by political opponents over his ancestry, with some alleging Indian heritage due to his paternal grandfather’s South Asian roots.

Dr Mahathir has always been identified as Malay in Malaysia’s socio-political context.

His father, Mohamad Iskander, was of Indian descent from Penang and had a Malay mother with roots in the South Indian state of Kerala.

Mohamad was also the first Malay headmaster of an English school (now Maktab Sultan Abdul Hamid) in Alor Setar.

His mother, Wan Tempawan Wan Hanafi, was of Malay descent and from Kedah.

It has been reported that when enrolling in medical school in Singapore, he indicated his ethnicity as Indian.

In 2022, Dr Mahathir took legal action against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for disputing his racial heritage during a UMNO meeting in 2017.

Meanwhile, netizens have claimed that Dr Mahathir’s ancestors hailed from the Palakkad district in Kerala.

They also noted that he resembles the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinari Vijayan.

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