Mahathir: “You see, when Malaysia became independent in 1957, we had people of foreign origin. We accepted all of them. They are now citizens.”
Speaking at the Asean summit on 13 Nov 2018, the then Harapan prime minister said Myanmar should emulate our country in accepting people of foreign origin — see The Star report below.
SIMILAR: Myanmar considers its Rohingya as foreigners. Mahathir considers ethnic minorities in Malaya 1957 to be “people of foreign origin”.
DIFFERENT: Myanmar made its Rohingya a stateless people by denying them citizenship. Malaya gave its Chinese and Indians citizenship.
Chinese were granted citizenship during the time of old Umno under the leadership of Dato’ Onn Jaafar and Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Onn Jaafar/Tunku and Mahathir are like chalk and cheese.
After the 1969 race riots, Tunku was ousted by Mahathir’s Young Turks. The 1950s Umno that facilitated citizenship for ethnic minorities was not a party that upheld Mahathir’s “orang asing” philosophy.
BELOW: Why do Malaysian Firsters speak bad BM?
Like the Rohingya unable to speak Burmese
Kenapa ada ramai (mungkin sampai ‘tujuh juta’ orang) warganegara yang tidak mampu bertutur bahasa kebangsaan?
Walhal pemegang kad pelarian UNHCR yang duduk di penempatan haram pun fasih berbahasa Melayu.
Note: Myanmar Malays are not Rohingya. Neither are Kaman Muslims, an indigenous Burmese ethnic. Their appearance and features are unlike that of the Rohingya.
Utusan reporter Zaid Mohd Noor wrote “semasa memandu kereta menyusuri beberapa jalan sempit di perkampungan [Bukit Malut] itu, perasaan saya sebagai wartawan dan jurugambar berasa bagaikan berada di negara asing”.
His report was published on 12 March 2021.
Bukit Malut in Langkawi has the sobriquet ‘Little Myanmar’. It is an illegal settlement built in the 1980s by people who claim to be descendants of Kedah Malays.
Mahathir agrees that they’re descended from Melayu who had merantau to Myanmar (starting the mid 1800s) and then returned to Langkawi a century later.
Kedah Immigration Department chief Zuhair Jamaluddin said “ramai dalam kalangan penduduk kawasan itu [Bukit Malut] memegang kad Suruhanjaya Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu Bagi Pelarian” — see Berita Harian article on 23 June 2019.
Zaid’s Utusan articles on the Bukit Malut residents were tweeted (below) by the Immigration Department, including one headlined ‘Kami pun warganegara Malaysia’. Click to enlarge and read.
‘Blood and soil’ weltanschauung
In the Mahathirist view of our world, Bukit Malut Malays have a place belonging in his Langkawi constituency even if their forefathers had left Kedah three to four generations ago.
They don’t look like Rohingya, and according to Mahathir, they’re not Rohingya.
Shortly after the publication of the Utusan article, Mahathir remarked mereka “bukanlah orang baru tetapi orang asal sini”.
Mahathirist philosophy decrees that the Bukit Malut Myanmar Malays are “orang asal sini” even though their grandparents and great-grandparents were physically separated from Kedah for more than a hundred years.
By the same token, seven million Malaysians whose grandparents and great-grandparents were “of foreign origin” are, in Mahathir’s mind, still orang asing yang bukan asal sini.
BELOW: His ‘orang asing’ trope has been repeated by Mahathir time and again throughout his long political career
Blood (keturunan) bestows on the Bukit Malut community – today numbering some 10,000 persons – their budaya dan bahasa heritage. Thus they speak fluent BM.
“Mereka ini orang Melayu yang berhijrah ke Thailand dan Myanmar dan balik semula ke sini, mereka fasih berbahasa Melayu”, Mahathir had asserted.
An aligned argument can be presented along the Mahathir line above suggesting that DAP’s Malaysian Firsters — mereka ini orang Cina yang berhijrah ke Malaya, mereka fasih berbahasa Cina.
Myanmar authorities have complained that the Rohingya are bad at speaking Burmese.
Commenting on Mahathir’s posturing against Aung San Suu Kyi at the Asean summit, Rob Eden had written on 23 Nov 2018: “Mahathir’s portrait of racial harmony in Malaysia is inspiring – except, of course, for being demonstrably false”.
“Far from ‘accepting all of them [Chinese and Indians]’, Malaysia’s post-independence governments have in fact spent a considerable time and energy on stoking racial divisions within their own country, wrote Eden in The Intepreter.
“Mahathir himself was a major architect of this [Ketuanan Melayu] strategy,” Eden said in Intepreter, which is the platform for Sydney-based think-tank the Lowy Institute.
“In the five decades since penning his 1970 The Malay Dilemma, he has built up a track record of racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic statements that extends all the way through his comments about ‘hook-nosed’ Jews and casual Holocaust revisionism in a BBC interview last month,” added Eden.
In 2018, Lim Kit Siang swore that Mahathir was a changed man — see above. Kit Siang also guaranteed that there would be no repeat of 1998 when Anwar was chucked by Mahathir.
Kit Siang lied to the Chinese.
Everybody else other than Cina DAP – even in mid 2018 – could see Mahathir’s track record and his consistency.
DAP continues to lie. And Chinese voters continue to vote for Christmas like turkeys.