Revered by many, reviled by some — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is mostly known as Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister and the only one to hold the position twice.
As much as Mahathir is remembered for his achievements in developing Malaysia into what it is today, he is also famous for making statements that made us scratching our heads.
Without further ado, let’s take a look into 5 of the most ridiculous and mind-boggling statements ever made by Mahathir.
1. Malays are lazy & untrustworthy
Back in 2018, Mahathir caused a stir by calling the Malays “lazy and untrustworthy” during Bersatu’s second anniversary celebrations.
At the event, he said that Malays tend to blame others for their shortcomings and were unwilling to work hard.
We accuse others. We accuse the government, accuse other races. When we fail, they are at fault. We are never wrong.
“We lack mastery of the knowledge and information needed to make good decisions. I dare to say that we are lazy. We like to hand over our jobs to other people.”
Furthermore, Mahathir claimed that Malays were prone to break promises and often took things/money that didn’t belong to them, quoting those who don’t pay back their PTPTN loans on time as an example.
2. Citizenship for all?
One of the most controversial scandals to take place during Mahathir’s first tenure as Prime Minister was Project IC, where thousands of illegal immigrants in Sabah were allegedly given ICs in order to tip the political scale in BN’s favour.
During a Q&A session at ‘The Cooler Lumpur Festival: Dangerous Ideas” event in June 2015, an audience member asked why the ICs were given to immigrants, this is what he had to say:
These people were given citizenship because they have been living there for more than 30 years with their children. Their children couldn’t go to school because they weren’t nationals. That’s not right.
“We accepted all of them. We didn’t tell them to go out. We didn’t behave like Myanmar.”
3. No M’sian identity thanks to chopsticks
Aside from criticising Malays, Mahathir has also reserved some of his sharpest words for the Chinese community as well.
During the official launching of his memoir Capturing Hope: The Struggle for a New Malaysia, Mahathir claimed that the Malaysian Chinese community were unwilling to form a common Malaysian identity.
How so? By using chopsticks. (Yes, you read this one right!)
For example, the Chinese eat with chopsticks, they don’t eat with their hands. They have not adopted the Malaysian way of eating food. They retained the chopstick which is an identity with China, not with Malaysia and many other things.
This inevitably caused much unhappiness among the Chinese community and Mahathir was criticised by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who said that using chopsticks to eat didn’t make one “less Malaysian”.
4. Poor Malays vs. rich Chinese
As mentioned previously, Mahathir isn’t one to mince his words and he definitely didn’t do so with this statement.
This time around, he claimed that Malaysian society was divided into two main group: the rich and the poor.
He added that the poor were mostly Malays and the rich were Chinese, which contributed to their poor relationship.
Demikian ramai yang miskin terdiri dari orang Melayu dan yang kaya dari orang Cina. Memang pun kedua-dua kaum tidak rapat dalam hubungan antara mereka.— Dr Mahathir Mohamad (@chedetofficial) August 5, 2022
Fortunately, Malaysians didn’t buy his argument and slammed him for fanning racial tensions between the Malays and Chinese.
5. M’sian Malays will end up like Singapore
With the Singapore dollar soaring against the Ringgit, most would assume that it’s the best time to be like Singapore, right?
Apparently, Mahathir thinks otherwise.
During the Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) coalition rally on Oct 15, Mahathir claimed that poverty might cause the Malays to sell their land and leave the federation to establish their own country.
Singapore used to belong to the state of Johor, but it has since become an independent country.
“We’ve already lost Singapore, if we’re too poor and don’t defend our interests, we will descend to the same fate as Singapore.”
In 2021, Mahathir claimed that Malaysia was selling itself away to Singapore by selling water and land to the city-island, leading to its rapid development.
What do you think of this list? Did we miss out any outrageous statements made by Mahathir? Let us know in the comments!