Pakatan Harapan needs the support of all Malaysians – regardless of race and religion – and must work hard to ensure that everyone is satisfied with the government, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In a special interview in conjunction with the first anniversary of Pakatan as the ruling party on Wednesday (May 8), he said everyone thinks the government is paying attention to other communities and not theirs.
“But the fact is that we are dealing with all the communities; we have to make sure that everybody is more or less satisfied.
“If Pakatan loses support from the Malays, we will lose. If Pakatan loses support from the Chinese, we will also lose. And even the Indians play a big role in ensuring that Pakatan wins. We have to be very careful,” he said.
Commenting on the assertion that the coalition is of a Malay-Muslim soul with a very divisive political position, Dr Mahathir said the fact remains that, basically, Malaysians are still concerned about race.
“We talk a lot about unity, being Malaysian and all that, but everybody talks about their own race. Ministers wanting to gain support from their own race must raise this issue in the government,” he said.
Citing contentious issues such as the matriculation quota system and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Dr Mahathir said both had been “played up” and “twisted”.
He explained that the matriculation programme was established because the government found that Malays do not take the Higher School Certificate (STPM) examination and, therefore, cannot enter university.
“So we provided a back door for them. Now the issue is why the Malays only (can enter matriculation); other people do much better, why they don’t get a spot? So now we’ve agreed to also give to non-Malays. The whole idea of increasing Malay students in universities by matriculation is nullified because even Chinese and Indians also go by the back door, and they’re not satisfied,” he said.
This matter, he said, had never cropped up before, but has now been played up and picked up by the media.
“People feel that the government is favouring the Malays. But if you ask the Malays and Muslims, they will tell you this government doesn’t pay attention to and uphold Islam. We have to be conscious of that also,” he said.
Dr Mahathir insisted that there’s nothing to be afraid of regarding the Rome Statute and that the issue had been twisted until the government had to backtrack on its plan to ratify it. (The Rome Statute is a treaty that established the International Criminal Court.)
“Everybody has problems, it’s not only the Malays and Muslims. We have Chinese problems, the UEC (Unified Examination Certificate), Chinese schools, Chinese universities, Indian problems.
“(But) we find that if we only treat one race, we will have trouble. We will try to make sure minimally everybody will get proper satisfaction. But there is no way we can satisfy everybody,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said things may take time, but that does not mean the government is passive. “We have to prepare, be careful of what we do and say, and what solution we reach,” he said.