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Re: G3* - MALAYSIA/CHINA/GV - INTERVIEW-Malaysia's Mahathir: racial divide deepening

Released on 2012-03-06 20:00 GMT

Email-ID 1543329
Date 2011-07-08 12:09:05
Gotta love Mahathir. He's pushing his autobiography and his story to help
build support for UMNO ahead of elections. This issue about the racial
divide has actually been a talking point for some time, we've had sources
emphasizing it since the global recession. Reason being that when the econ
crunch happend, the govt reverted to its gut instinct policies, which are
pro-Malay. And now with election approaching, and Najib pushing his "one
malaysia" idea, the situation is becoming even more contentious for those
who consider themselves to suffer under pro-Malay policies, namely the
enterprising ethnic Chinese minority. What Mahathir is doing here is
drumming up resentment against the Chinese with the hopes of getting more
malays out to vote, and to vote pro-Malay.

Unlike Najib, he doesn't have to try to court the Chinese vote. The danger
is that his statements will alienate Chinese voters that Najib needs. This
is the predicament and one of the reasons there is a fair chance that
Najib will not win back a two-thirds super-majority for BN, and will lose
his job as a result. The broader ramifications if Najib can't get back the
two-thirds super-majority are weakening of the BN, hence driving Malaysia
closer to a time in which a real opposition can gain ground.

On 7/7/11 10:44 AM, Michael Wilson wrote:

INTERVIEW-Malaysia's Mahathir: racial divide deepening

07 Jul 2011 04:33

Source: reuters // Reuters

(Click for a Special Report on Malaysia)

By Bill Tarrant

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, July 7 (Reuters) - Malaysian Chinese have stopped
supporting the government because they no longer feel they are getting
their share of projects, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said.

The former prime minister looked back on his two decades in power in a
May 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 majority Malays.

"Yes, it's worse now," Mahathir says of the racial divide in Malaysia.
"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."

Mahathir also ensured Chinese support by doling out government contracts
to them and their Malay partners, which critics said encouraged
corruption and cronyism. Mahathir's successors shelved big projects to
pare down a widening fiscal deficit, at the cost of Chinese votes,
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 doesn't think much of it today.

"We should not be too dependent on FDI anymore. 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

Mahathir published an 809-page autobiography, "A Doctor in the House",
in March because he felt "the need to make corrections of the opinions
and the accusations that were levelled at me".

The accusation that grated the most, he said, was that he undermined the
judiciary. The criticism is rooted in a 1988 amendment to the
constitution that transferred powers over the judiciary to parliament.
It essentially emasculated judicial independence, and allowed him to get
judicial backing for his political manoeuvres from then onward.

Dr. Mahathir could not disguise his contempt for lawyers.

"A doctor wants to find out about the truth of his patients so he can
identify a treatment. A lawyer wants to get his client off the hook. And
even if he knows the client is guilty he is going to find ways and means
of getting him off the hook." (Editing by John Chalmers)

Michael Wilson
Director of Watch Officer Group, STRATFOR
Office: (512) 744 4300 ex. 4112

Michael Wilson
Director of Watch Officer Group, STRATFOR
Office: (512) 744 4300 ex. 4112

Matt Gertken
Senior Asia Pacific analyst
US: +001.512.744.4085
Mobile: +33(0)67.793.2417