What does Malaysia’s deputy prime minister Zahid Hamidi really think of Indians?


What does Malaysia’s deputy prime minister Zahid Hamidi really think of Indians?
By Zan Azlee

IF I were a Malaysian of Indian descent right now, I’d be pissed off at what Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said about former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Indian parentage.

Zahid recently exposed how Dr Mahathir’s old national identification card had his name listed as Mahathir a/l (anak lelaki or son of) Iskandar Kutty, a fact he claimed was proof of how the latter has been exploiting the Malays to pursue his own agenda.

Here’s some context.

Zahid is from Malaysia’s ruling party United Malays National Organisation (Umno) whereas Dr Mahathir, formerly of Umno, is now the chairman of new opposition party Bersatu (United) and the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (Pact of Hope).

Hence why Zahid was attacking Dr Mahathir.

What Zahid meant to say was that Dr Mahathir was not a true Malay, and he (Zahid) was using that fact to mock Dr Mahathir before his colleagues in Umno (the expose was made when he was giving a speech at a party divisional assembly).

Which leads to me to ask: What does Malaysia’s deputy prime minister really think of Indians?

This is the problem with Malaysian politics. It is a racist system where the political parties are made up of racial groups. Let’s look at the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition… the main component parties are Umno, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC).

These parties will constantly remind and threaten their followers that if they don’t vote for such parties, they will suffer as the rights of their racial community will not be protected by the government. It is very much a divide-and-conquer strategy. Very archaic indeed.

To be honest, the opposition isn’t that free from this racist system either. Most of their component parties are dominated by different racial groups, too. But at least many are trying to open up and portray themselves as multiracial parties.

But I digress. Let’s go back to Zahid’s apparently low opinion of the Indians in Malaysia, so low it seems that he saw fit to mock Dr Mahathir’s Indian origins.

I can’t really speak for the Indian community because I’m not Indian. But I can speak as a Malaysian, I am shocked, embarrassed and disgusted by Zahid’s behaviour.

This also begs the question: since Zahid, as home minister, acquired the information from the National Registration Department Director-General Yazid Ramli, would this be considered an abuse of power? To me, the answer to that is “yes”.

A police report has been made against Zahid and Yazid for that very accusation. It was made by former Umno member Khairuddin Abu Hassan as he said it was unethical for civil servants to collude with politicians and release private information.

Social media has also been awash with condemnations against Zahid, including criticism by many current and former leaders. They accused of him of having “no class” for raising such an issue and say he is only doing this because he still fears Dr Mahathir.

I don’t want a government leader who does not see that people of all races in Malaysia are equals.

I don’t want a political system that is entrenched in racism and that keeps the society in constant fear and loathing of each other.

[This article was originally written for and published at AsianCorrespondent.com]

Get Zan Azlee’s latest book ‘JOURNO-DAD: The chronicles of a journalist who just happens to be a dad!‘ today!

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