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Updated January 13th, 2024 at 15:01 IST

Mahathir Mohamad SHOCKER: 'Indians Not Loyal, Need to Shed Indian Identity to Be Malaysians'

Mahathir Mohd sparked outrage by questioning the loyalty of the Indian diaspora, urging stronger assimilation into Malay culture.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former prime minister
Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former prime minister | Image:AP
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Kuala Lumpur: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has hurt Indian sentiments when he expressed his views on the identity of Malaysians, particularly targeting the Indian diaspora in Malaysia, in a recent online interview with a TV channel. Mahatir Mohammad sparked outrage among the Indian diaspora when he said, “ Indian’s haven't been completely loyal to Malay culture and Malaysia.”

Mahathir asserted that "Malaysia belongs to the people who founded Malaysia," underlining that Malaysian Indians are not entirely loyal to the country due to their continued identification with their country of origin (India) and preservation of their own culture. According to him, for Malaysian Indians to be considered truly Malaysian, they should identify more as ‘Malay’ and adopt the ‘Malay culture’. The former Malaysian Premier said, “they (Indians and Chinese) are different from the original people (Malay) who founded this country.”

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Mahathir Alleges a Lack of Malaysian Identity in Indian Diaspora

During the interview to Thanthi TV, Mahathir pointed out that Malaysian Indians often speak Tamil at home rather than Malay, the official language of the country. He argued, “If they want to be Malaysians, they must also remember that they are Malaysians more than immigrants from other countries.”

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When asked about the assimilation of non-Malays into Malay culture, Mahathir affirmed the expectation, stating, "In any country, if you want to claim that you belong to that country, you must identify yourself with the indigenous people of that country." He insisted that individuals claiming to belong to a country should align themselves with the indigenous community.

However, when questioned about the rights of the Orang Asli, the indigenous people of Malaysia, Mahathir disagreed.

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‘I'm Not Indian’: Mahathir on His Roots of Origin

Trying to distance himself from the Indian-identity, Mahathir said, “No, I'm not an Indian. I'm a Malay because I do not know the Indian language, and that was a long, long time ago.”

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When asked if he expects all Malaysians to follow the same path, Mahathir insisted, “Yes, if they want to claim the country as their own, they must identify themselves completely with this country.”

Further in assessing the contribution of non-Malays to nation-building and the economy, Mahathir stated that they have been "fairly compensated." According to him, Malaysia's political landscape allowed the involvement of individuals who did not fully identify with the Malay identity, and even after that, they were in the federal administration.

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Published January 13th, 2024 at 14:18 IST

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