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Author Topic: 'Malaysia's racial divide is deepening'  (Read 778 times)

'Malaysia's racial divide is deepening'
« on: July 08, 2011, 02:16:34 AM »
http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC110 ... -deepening

'Malaysia's racial divide is deepening'
04:45 AM Jul 08, 2011PUTRAJAYA - Malaysian Chinese have stopped supporting the government because they no longer feel they are getting their share of projects, Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said.

The former Prime Minister looked back on his two decades in power in an interview at his office in Putrajaya, the showcase administrative capital he built in the 1990s and one of the "mega-projects" that helped define his regime.

Chinese and Indians make up a third of the population but have become increasingly unhappy about an official policy that discriminates against them in favour of the majority Malays.

"Yes, it's worse now," Dr Mahathir said of the racial divide in Malaysia during the interview in May. "During my time, I could rely on Chinese support for my party. Now, the government is threatened with losing Chinese support."

He noted that his government two decades ago bowed to Chinese demands to have their own schools taught in the Chinese language, and said it showed how accommodating it was to minority races.

"Despite having a national (Malay) language, they don't teach in the national language. They can't speak the national language."

But he acknowledged that having separate schools had become a major factor in the racial divide.

"We would like them to come to national schools. We even suggested you can have your Chinese school, you can have your Tamil school, but why not put all three schools on one campus? So they can eat together, they can play together, and each gets to know that, in the real world, they have to interact with different races.

"But the Chinese say no. They say if you do that, we won't support the government."

Dr Mahathir also ensured Chinese support by doling out government contracts to them and their Malay partners, which critics said encouraged corruption and cronyism. Dr Mahathir's successors shelved big projects to pare down a widening fiscal deficit, at the cost of Chinese votes, Dr Mahathir said.

"For some reason or another, the moment I stepped down, all the projects were stopped ... When you stop big government projects, a lot of people - well, their businesses - will go down."

The man who made Malaysia part of the "East Asia Miracle" with a massive inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) does not think much of it today.

"We should not be too dependent on FDI anymore," he said. "We've come to the stage when locals can invest. They have now the capital. They have the technology. They know the market. And I think they can manage big industries." Reuters
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