Mahathir reacts to LKY’s Interview

September 14, 2010

Singapore was cause of Malaysia’s racial problems, says Dr M

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that racism in Malaysia was clearly the result of Singapore’s short membership in the country, and not because the island was “turfed out” as suggested by the republic’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew recently.

“Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been ‘turfed out’ Malaysia would have no racial problem? While Kuan Yew talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that “once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority,” said Dr Mahathir in a posting on his blog.

In an interview with the New York Times, Lee argued that if Malaysia had accepted a multiracial base much of what had been achieved in Singapore would have also been attained in Malaysia.

Lee, Singapore’s longest serving prime minister, claimed that if Singapore had not seceded from Malaysia, the country would have improved inter-racial relations and an improved holistic situation today. “Now we have a very polarised Malaysia — Malays, Chinese and Indians in separate schools, living separate lives and not really getting on with one another. You read them. That’s bad for us as close neighbours,” he had said in the interview according to the transcript made available on the website of the Singapore prime minister’s office.

The remarks by the two retired prime ministers come ahead of Malaysia Day on Thursday. Singapore

May this Guy can teach us how to live in peace

joined newly-independent Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia on September 16, 1963, but was subsequently expelled in 1965.

Lee’s and Dr Mahathir’s comments also come amid a heightened race debate in Malaysia, as a result of plans by the Najib administration to roll back some of the country’s affirmative action policies favouring the Malay and Bumiputera communities.

In his blog post, Dr Mahathir pointed out that Singapore’s population was made up of 75 per cent Chinese and that the community owned 95 per cent of the economy.“It is therefore not a truly multi-racial country but a Chinese country with minority racial groups who are additionally much poorer,” he claimed.

Lee had said in his interview that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races.

This, he said, had been his greatest satisfaction in helming Singapore.“We made quite sure whatever your race, language or religion, you are an equal citizen and we’ll drum that into the people and I think our Chinese understand and today we have an integrated society.

“We will not as a majority squeeze the minority because once we’re by ourselves, the Chinese become the majority,” he said.

Lee also took a dig at the Malaysian scenario, pointing out that the Singaporean Malays were English-educated and were no longer like the Malaysian Malays.

Dr Mahathir’s stand contrasted sharply with that of Lee’s. He argued in his blog post that Singapore was a country dominated by one race and not really multiracial.

“Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese and have won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake.If Singapore is a part of Malaysia the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country. Amnesia is permissible but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been ‘turfed out’ for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history,” said Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir also asserted that there was less racial politics in Malaya before Singapore joined the federation.“In 1955, the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

“The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them one million unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.”

He claimed that it was because Lee had subsequently reneged on a promise that his PAP would not take part in politics outside the island that sparked racial tension.Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first prime minister, was forced to expel Singapore because racism had taken hold, Dr Mahathir claimed. This, Dr Mahathir suggested, led eventually to the 1969 racial riots in Kuala Lumpur.

48 thoughts on “Mahathir reacts to LKY’s Interview

  1. IF Singapore was not “turfed out” Malaysian history may be more colorful than it is today and perhaps already enjoying a developed nation status minus the Twin Tower. Sabah and Sarawak may not be given a raw deal all these 47 years. Now we may not know for sure.

  2. The post on this in has, in a short span of 2 hours, attracted 86 comments from readers, mostly speaking out in support of Lee Kuan Yew.

    One comment from a reader, calling himself Ericlcc, I should says it all, so I am reposting it here to share:

    Agree that both M and LKY are dictators in their own right. However both are on opposite scale. Its very easy to differentiate between darkness and light; nonsense and intelligence; corrupted and clean; cronies first and people first; plunderer and builder; law of the jungle and rule of law; social indifference and social concern; milking the cow and feeding the cow; riches to rags and rags to riches; throwing billions and making billions; etc etc etc.. Well, I am sure we are intelligent enough to decide which scale belongs to who.

  3. Mahathir and The Young Turks in UMNO at that time were bitterly opposed to LKY’s Malaysian Malaysia. They were champions of Ketuanan Melayu who wanted Tunku out of the way.

    May 13, 1969 story has yet to be fully told. I read Leon Comber “13 May 1969, A Survey of Sino-Malay Relations”, Heinemann Asia Ltd., Kuala Lumpur, 1981 and found nothing in this book to implicate LKY and his PAP. Maybe Mr Comber knew a lot more than he was willing to disclose in 1981 (when Mahathir came to power), if Mahathir is to be believed. I have my doubts.

    Tunku Abdul Rahman had his own version. Activist and researcher Dr. Kua Kia Soong published a book ” May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969″. This book challenges the Malaysian government’s official position on the cause of the May 13 Incident. At the time, the government stated the cause was opposition parties’ creating tensions after the 1969 elections. In contrast, Dr. Kua stated that the “ascendent state capitalist class” in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the party in power, had intentionally started the riot as a coup d’etat to topple the Tunku, traditional Malay Rulers, from power. Remember Mahathir’s letter to the Tunku.–Din Merican

  4. If Mahathir blames PAP for starting the race game with UMNO following suit when the two countires were one, how come Singapore are streets ahead economically while Malaysia is still stuck in a rut? Actually, it just shows meritocracy has been flourishing in the city state while UMNO is stuck in a time warp somewhere in the 1960s.

    Mahathir’s verbal gymnastics in trying to pin the race game on Singapore fails to disguise UMNO’s failures (including his tenure as PM). It also exposes his lies. Just like the ISA of 1960s was tacked on the British, now the race game so entrenched in our country needs to be blamed on PAP. Mahathir was known as the Malay Ultra in late 1960s and in 2010, he is back in his racist cloak.

  5. If you have problems, blame others. Standard Operating Procedure in Politics. So it is convenient for Mahathir to blame LKY and the PAP for the mess we are in today. Malaysian Malaysia was unacceptable to UMNO then. Now we are talking about 1Malaysia. To my simple mind, they are the same.

    What do you think? Sentinel, Menyalak-er, Mongkut Bean, Tok Cik, Semper fi, over to you. It has been a long day for me.–Din Merican

  6. Mahathir and LKY.

    Both of them belong to same generation.The only different LKY become the PM in 1966 and Mahathir in 1981.Forget about races who dominated whom.You can see clearly who is the batter PM.

    Mahathir inherited a corrupted political system and when he resign as PM in 2003 the system become more corrupt.
    LKY inherited also a corrupt system but we he resign he left behind a very clean government.

    How I wish LKY is the Pm for malaysia as well.

  7. Who knows what history would have been? It is kind of like Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”

    But I think there is one good example of the difference between governance and business in both countries, and that is what happened after Malaysia Singapore Airlines split in 1972.

    Today Singapore Airlines consistently ranks as one of the best, if not the best, airline in the world. As for MAS, all you have to do is read Malaysia Today…..

  8. Mr Lee Kwan Yew, the Minister Mentor of Singapore is three years my senior. That means he and I practically grew up in the same period of time. That also means that I have been able to watch the progress of Mr Lee, and in fact to interact with him on various occasions.

    2. His assertion in his interview with the New York Times that “Race relations (would be) better if Singapore (had) not (been) “turfed out” (of Malaysia) is worth studying. Is it true or is it fantasy?

    3. Before Singapore joined the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, there was less racial politics in the Federation of Malaysia. In 1955 the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

    4. The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them one million unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.

    5. In the 1959 elections the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC won easily though Kelantan was lost. PAS with only Malays as members was rejected. Racialism even when implied failed.

    6. In 1963 Singapore became a part of Malaysia. Despite having promised that the PAP will not participate in Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak politics, Kwan Yew reneged and the PAP tried to displace the MCA in the Alliance by appealing to Chinese sentiments in the Peninsular. Of course the slogan was “Malaysian Malaysia” which implied that the Chinese were not having equal rights with the Malays. If this appeal to Chinese sentiments against the Malays was not racial, I do not know what is racial.

    7. But the Peninsular Chinese favoured working with the Malays in UMNO. They totally rejected PAP in 1964.

    8. Following the Malaysian Malaysia campaign a few UMNO leaders tried to rouse Singapore Malay sentiments. There were demonstrations in Singapore where before there were none. Kwan Yew accused Jaafar Albar for instigating the Singapore Malays. Although I never went to Singapore, nor met the Malays there, I was labelled a Malay-ultra by Kwan Yew himself.

    9. By 1965 racism had taken hold and the Tunku was forced to end Singapore’s membership of Malaysia. But the seed of Chinese racialism had been sown, so that even after the PAP left, the “Malaysian Malaysia” war cry was picked up by the DAP, an offspring of the PAP.

    10. With the background of Singapore’s activities in Malaysia in the short three years of its membership, can we really believe that if it had not been “turfed out” race relations would be better in Malaysia?

    11. But proof of what would have happened was shown by the politics leading up to the 1969 Election. The MCA began to criticise the Sino/Malay cooperation especially on so-called special rights and demanded for a Chinese University. UMNO then began to clamour for a greater share of the economy of the country. The UMNO/MCA conflict resulted in the Alliance faring very badly in the 1969 Elections.

    12. DAP and Gerakan, a new party largely made up of MCA dissidents made gains. The Alliance were shocked and rattled.

    13. Then the Gerakan and DAP held their victory parade near the Malay settlement of Kampung Baru, hurling racist insults at the Malays. The result was the 13th May race riots.

    14. Till today the racist slogan “Malaysian Malaysia” is the war-cry of the DAP. Racism in Malaysia is clearly the result of Singapore’s membership of the country for just three years. Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been “turfed out” Malaysia would have no racial problem.

    15. While Kwan Yew talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that “once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority”.

    16. Singapore’s population is made up of 75 per cent Chinese and they own 95 per cent of the economy. It is therefore not a truly multi-racial country but a Chinese country with minority racial groups who are additionally much poorer.

    17. In Singapore dissent is not allowed, People who contest against the PAP would be hauled up in court for libel and if they win elections would not be allowed to take their places in Parliament. Whereas in Malaysia opposition parties invariably win seats in Parliament and even set up State Governments (today five out of the 13 States are ruled by the opposition parties) the PAP in Singapore has to appoint PAP members to represent the opposition.

    18. Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese and have won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake.

    19. If Singapore is a part of Malaysia the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country.

    20. Amnesia is permissible but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been “turfed out” for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history.

    21. Lee Kwan Yew and I saw the same things and know the reasons why.

  9. at long last, i found a more or less common trait with that fella apanama. What was that again? ‘Amnesia is permissible’. Luv it!

  10. If you have been reading Mahathir you know it is always half truths, distortions and forgetfulness! Always to justify his role in history. He kept important facts and details under OSA so as to hide his wrong doings. And to ensure that they are not exposed he employed the most ruthless means to silence those who dared to.

  11. Leaving aside the rhetoric and amnesia, the fact remains that Singapore has made it and we are on the verge of missing the boat. Draw your own conclusions…

  12. picojayboy,

    Thanks for your input and I am honoured that you are willing to share your perspective on Mahathir’s reaction to LKY New York Times interview. You must know Mahathir well too since he is 2 years younger than LKY ( born 1925 and 1923 respectively).

    Race remains part of our politics and the May 13, 1969 saga still dominates our psyche. It is time we have a Truth Commission to look at this traumatic national experience and clear all of untruths, misrepresentations and doubts surrounding it. It is time we move forward and not remain prisoners of that regrettable episode in our history.

    Men like you and those of your generation on both sides of the causeway can contribute to seeing an end to race based discourse and promoting good relations between Malaysia and Singapore. When the 1969 riots erupted, I was doing postgraduate studies in Washington DC and therefore had no direct experience of it nor the politics of that time (1968-1970) which led to this tragic episode. Most Malaysians growing up during those times are scarred by it.–Din Merican

  13. Dr Mahathir Mohamad may give his side of the story, but this is not what I gathered when we read Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs on the difficult years when he had to deal with politicians from Malaya and also on the racial strife that happened. Of course each of them is entitled to their own opinion.

    So how then shall we assess who is right? I look at who is able to manage better, who has better attributes to ensure less corruption and abuse of power and who is able to anticipate problems and taking steps pre-emptively to resolve the problems. On all these accounts, I consider Lee and Singapore performing and doing much better.

    Singapore may be smaller, but the problems they faced were definitely more complex, urgent and protracted. If Malaysian politicians were to manage Singapore from day one, I think Singapore would be a city slum today.
    O.S. I wonder whether Singapore History textbooks have the story of Hang Nadim, who saved Singapore, in the story Singapura Di Langgar Todak.

  14. “Race remains part of our politics and the May 13, 1969 saga still dominates our psyche. It is time we have a Truth Commission to look at this traumatic national experience and clear all of untruths, misrepresentations and doubts surrounding it. It is time we move forward and not remain prisoners of that regrettable episode in our history. “Din Merican

    Excellent forsight as usual Din. I have just asked someone else for the account of May 13th before during and after.I Know I want to know the facts. Then we can move forward learning from that and “not remain prisoners” as you said by fear of “the other”.

  15. If this racial poison stemmed from Singapore 47 years ago lasting for 2 years, how come it has poisoned Malaysia and continued to poison Malaysia for the past 45 years while singapore florished?

    The message that was deemed poison by mahathir is still preached by Singapore today from which it prospers, while the message of social restructuring and social justice of Malaysia has morphed into a monster called ‘ketuanan melayu and social contract’ during the 1980’s . If it were not for oil Malaysia would have been a basket case long time ago.

    The reason why PAP came to the Peninsula was because UMNO broke its word and set up branches in Singapore, reneging a mutual agreement.

    The Singapore cabinet has 21 ministers including 1 Malay and 4 Indians. During some point in time the DPM was an Indian.The finance minister is an Indian. As long as BN is the government the Malaysian finance minister will always be Malay even if he is not the best or most qualified candidate.

    The Singapore Cabinet had always had a disporportionate number of Indian Ministers. Is this because of meritocracy or some sinister conspiracy or propaganda?

  16. In the years to come LKY’s name will be well remembered the world over but that “apa nama” will just remain as that “apa nama”.

  17. This is my take:

    If we have leaders of the same calibre as LKY and those that he had nurtured we’ll not be where we are today. I don’t mind if our leaders are honest and hard working but firm in the ways they handle things. What matters is how they help shape the future of this bountiful nation rather then what they do to achieve the unachievable.

    Our leaders careless for the rakyat. While they rape and plunder the nation’s wealth they enacted laws to cow the rakyat and subvert their capacity to act and think. They keep harping on Malay rights and constantly remind the Chinese and Indians that they are “pendatangs” and, therefore, should be beholden to Umno for keeping them here.

    In short, it’s better to have leaders like LKY than those that Umno churns out, year in and year out. Over the years these same leaders think that the country and the rakyat owe them a living and ruling the country is their birthright. That belief is about to end. The gravy train has no more steam to go on.

  18. Yes Din, pointing fingers and whatever ways of appropotioning blame is the sign of tyrants and despots: the proverbial “God complex”. Octo remains lucid in his twilight years, but contrary to wisdom refuses to reflect on the true meaning of the word “Success” and “Legacy”. His distortion of history and insistence on ethnic baiting reveals the depth of jealousies and antipathy towards anyone who is perceived to be more ‘successful’.

    The unfortunate thing about Octo, is that he has encultured vicious back-stabbing, scandal mongering and envious ideolgies into the psyche of the younger generation. The ‘modern’ Malay (with exeptions of course), spend more time gossiping and sniping at their neighbours than reflecting on their own hubris. The gentleman psyche is no more. And they call this “modernity” and “advancement”. Success is measured by efficacy in back-stabbing and ensnaring others. Legalism becomes a tool.

    The depraved Perkasa ultras and other like minded groups have this maxim: “We must have it all. If we can’t, we will drag you in the pit. No ‘others’ are allowed to be successful. We are the noble aristocrats and the ultimate judge.”

    Just look at the superficiality of thought and lack of individuality, as revealed by the pro-Establishment commentators here…

  19. In May 1969 I was a young subaltern attached to my unit which was stationed in Kuala Kubu Bahru. For a moment I thought it was great, as now we could see some action besides the mundane operational duties up along the Thai border.

    I learned about the rally by DAP and Gerakan over their recent election victories and how it had affected the sentiments of the Malays in Kg Baru. We’re placed on stand by but were not deployed. The Malay regiment in Sg Besi was used instead and the results were catastrophic.

    It’s difficult to keep one’s feeling under wrap, especially in a public order situation as such.

    I did managed to get a glimpse of Kg Baru and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, where the trouble was most pronounced. while on escort duties to KL.

    Unfortunately, my battalion was never called to the front. We were later told that the Rangers would be the last to be summoned for anti-riot duties. The racial composition of our regiment was the main reason.

  20. Sayang Bangsa:

    Malays in Singapore might not be better of than the Chinese and Indians here but they are way better off than the Malays in this country. I have relatives in Singapore who are glad that they stayed in Singapore. Their children get to go to NUS because everything is based on merit. If you are willing to work for it, you’ll be successful there unlike some leeches in this country who are always waiting for handouts.

    Most Singaporean Malays don’t like that Malaysian Malays think that they are weak and useless because most of them are way ahead than most Malays in this country. These people are proud that they can stand on their own two feet without any help. They don’t need your pity.
    Didi, I agree. Singapore Malays are doing well academically, in the army, and in business, and can make it on their own. I talked to a number of Singapore Malay leaders when I was working there with Sime Darby. People like Ridzwan Dzafir, Tarmugi, Zainul Rashid, Mushahid Ali and others tell me that they are proud to be Singaporeans.–Din Merican

  21. Friends

    There difference in the two gentlemen is a matter of perspective. Both remembered history to shield themselves from their failures and setbacks.

    A major reason why Singapore left Malaysia was the tussle over the budget to support the development of East Malaysia. UMNO wanted more than what Singapore could afford.

    Now, the true difference in the two gentlemen gave to contrasting set of results. Mahathir was a Malay tribal leader, whilst LKY was a Nationalistic leader. The Malay tribe prospered and the higher you are on the tribal system, the more you got. Of course the lower caste of the tribe did not matter to them. That was the objective, it was never the nation, only the Malay tribe.

    On the other hand LKY was a nationalistic leader, he ensured the development and the prosperity of the entire nation.

    There is really nothing else to argue about.

  22. So in essence, both gentlemen and their supporters are right.

    If you only care about your tribe and race, Mahathir is the Man of the Century for Malays.

    If you care for the Country, you must go beyond tribal thinking and work for the prosperity and unity of the Nation.

    It is just a totally different level of thinking. Tribal versus Nationalistic.


  23. James

    There’s really no difference between Tun M and LKY. Both are dictators. Both still wants to rule. One is Minister Mentor whose son is the Premier. One is assumed mentor whose son has ambitions to be PM. So they don’t get along as like-minded people usually are.
    But how come one dictator is liked by you all. One is hated. Is it because the Singapore perfume smells better??

    Does anyone know where I can get the book ‘Ghazali Shafie’s Memoir On The Formation Of Malaysia.’ Someone alerted me about this after i posted comment on din’s blog that I don’t know much on how Malaysia is formed aside from the Cobbold Commission.
    Sayang Bangsa, please go to the UKM Bangi bookstore or the one at UM.–Din Merican

  24. Bean

    From what I perceive, you are a strong proponent of the Peter Principle.

    Mahathir peaked as a tribal leader. Absolutely no question.

    LKY is on a totally different level in any Peter Principle analysis.

    To compare both is just like comparing charcoal and diamonds. The only similarity is (carbon based), but all other properties differ.

  25. Sayang Bangsa

    I agree with you that both are dictators. It is the essence needed to develop any country. The good news was none of them had Polpot tendencies.

    Now, being dictators is where the similarities end. One is like I said, a tribal leader. The other is Nationalistic leader.

    This explains why we have all these mega projects that dont make economic sense. Mahathir as a tribal leader needed to show that his tribe had all the biggest glittery things such as Twin Towers, Bakun Be Damned, etc., and his tribes got goodies in line with their status within.

    On the other hand, LKY was more interested to ensure his people gained good education, good skills, ample housing, with good healthcare and all the basic necessities to compete.

    Both are correct in their view points.

    But the question to Malaysians is really, you want to remain in tribal mindset? It is obvious that many still do, and that is your right!!!

  26. Dear James

    Mahathir should be ashamed of himself for trying to blame Lee for the racial tensions in our nation. Please look at yourself before blaming others. If there is one racist, you are the worst of them all. Shame on you at this age to blame others for the mess made in race relations in the country.

    If not for your Bumiputera status implementation, we would not have a racial divide today. You will go to your grave and the people will remember you for this sin of racialism. And imagine, you are still doing it even though you are out of government. Please retire for good lest divine judgment comes upon you.

  27. If you draw a chart of two columns between LKY and Mahathir and list its inputs between success and failure from a nation’s perspectives, you will certainly find the lists of failures on Mahathir’s column getting longer and longer whilst his successes getting shorter and shorter. The opposite is on LKY side. Strange perhaps, but it is true. I rest my case.

  28. Mahathir and Harry Lee are 2 strong leaders with a vision for the nation that each leads. However one stayed the straight path while the other strayed from the straight path. You figure who’s who.
    Now Mahathir is playing the sore loser game blaming everybody and everything for his failure while Harry lee is riding the waves of accolades bestowed by not only Singaporeans but also other leaders who make a beeline to his front door for advise.
    No comparison and thus no further need to give Mahathir the time of day. Mahathir had his opportunity to make Malaysia great but he blew it. Harry Lee while behaving like a dictator saw the future for Singapore and made sure nothing stands in his way to make it a success. The rest is history.

  29. Say what you like. Having read all your comments and enough materials written on both leaders. Given a choice and similar scenario, I would not model my practice to those of Mahathir but LKY. Why, history will remember well of LKY but not for Mahathir.
    I was full of praise and feels Mahathir’ conviction for the Malays in his book The Malay Dilemma but I fall into the black hole after reading Maverick. I was extremely disappointed.

    I cried not for myself. I will be long gone when things deteriorate but the future of my children is uncertain. What 1Malaysia we are trying to sell here? Why must there be unity among the Malay communities? Who are they uniting against? Malaysia is DOOMED…

  30. Mahatier talks and talks of the Future for there were no Past or Present.
    LKY talks of the Past as the Future is already so obviously here.

  31. “Unfortunately, my battalion was never called to the front.” Brig.Gen Tok Cik

    Well my Unit was. I was a weekend soldier whose only experience at shooting the SLR was at the firing range in Rawang, when our enemies were imaginary ones that never seemed to move.

    I saw at first hand the aftermath of the first few days of riots in Kg. Bahru, along Jln. Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Sg. Besi and Kg. Pantai Dalam (I think) and Kg. Kerinci. There had been reports of sniper fire along Jln. Tuanku Abdul Rahman during our routine patrol. What was that all about?

    Our best duty was when we were assigned to guard the nurses’ hostel (University Hospital) which was exposed to the highway where you could see the burnt out wreckage of what once used to be a Beetle. We were feted (to the envy of students like KJ John who later asked me if he should join our Unit) like the Second Coming and one took me into her room. She wanted to demonstrate to me how the pincer movement was done and that premature withdrawals need not always be bad. These are very complicated military maneuvers. Came I did.

  32. The current state of affairs in Malaysia is because of Mahathir’s 22 years of rule. Who is a better administrator, Lee or Mahathir? Singapore is a well-planned city while KL is not. Singapore is a safe city but KL is not. Singapore’s public transport is excellent, but KL’s is not.

    We have better natural resources and yet we are pathetic compared to our neighbors. Why? This is because Umno under Mahathir was busy looting the country. Every project that he approved was over-priced. That’s the main reason why we are in this state of affairs. Don’t blame Lee because under him, Singapore was better managed.

  33. Singapore is a meritocratic society. It is a country bereft of natural resources but yet it defies the mind that a small red dot at the tip of a 100-times bigger, resource-rich, blessed with a bigger multiracial-populated country can outperform it in every areas of human achievements.

    According to Mahathir, being efficient and successful equals to racism. Thus racism in Malaysia was clearly the result of Singapore’s success – even though Singapore was kicked out of the federalism and be left to be punished by the hands of fate, and Malaysia was totally shaped and ruled by Mahathir for 25 years.

    Well, this is what you might called it as Mahathir’s fuzzy logic – the cranky architect of the Malay Dilemma.

  34. LKY is human, he can tell lies too, who can varify the truth of his intentions and what he claimed….notwithstanding that, we salute his nation building capabalities….

  35. I take issue with some comments of Tun Dr Mahathir in relation to his criticism of LKY.

    I have tremendous respect for Statesmen Octogenarians, who continue to think, speak and write lucidly in the endeavours of nation building. Tun is one such person who can present his arguments persuasively to win over ordinary folks to his side. In my view he was the most intelligent and smartest of all the PMs Malaysia hitherto had. Surprisingly and regrettably his achievements pale off compared to the damages he caused the nation with his divisive race and economic policies which mainly benefited a favoured class at the costly expense of common people and organs of the state. This happened despite his superior intellect and the enormous power he wielded during his 22 years of reign – which he could have better used to create a more equitable society and a more confident, entrepreneur and skillful Malay-Bumiputra class.

    Let me respond to his observations in relation to two matters that interest me.

    (i)The status of Malays and Non-Malays in pre and post independent Malaya:

    Tun claims that in 1955 the Malays made up 80 per cent of the citizens or population. I am not sure if this was correct. According to 1947 Census, total population of Malaya was 4.9 million comprising 49.5% Malays, 38.4% Chinese and 12.1% Others (mainly Indians and the rest). In 1951, the population was some 5.3 million and the racial percentage was more or less the same. In other words around these periods the Non-Malays outnumbered the Malays marginally. It was only from around mid 50’s that there was big inflow of Indonesians that pushed the Malay-Muslim population into a fast growing majority.

    He says that the Tunku offered the Chinese and Indians one million unconditional citizenship in exchange for their support for the Alliance in getting Independence, which reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent. What makes Tun think for sure it was the Tunku who took this decision and not the British who could have brokered for this from behind the scene to ensure that the Chinese and Indians were not left high and dry in the process?

    If there was no fair deal given to the Non-Malays to secure their future the British would probably not agreed to granting independence at that juncture. It was the British who were in control of the Sultans and their states through the office of British Resident General whose advice the Sultans were bound to accept under prior agreement. Any Sultan who defied the British did so at his own peril. Also bear in mind that Sultan or no Sultan, without the British presence and support (in running the anti-guerilla warfare) the Communists would have run over Malaya in due course.

    (ii) Comparison between LKY and Tun:

    Shorn of race-tinkered bias attributed to them, LKY has laid solid foundation for the prosperity and progress of Singapore for the present and its long term future, whereas Tun has left Malaysia in shambles with high corruption, divisive society and weakened institutions of the State.

    Take the last 4-5 Cabinets in Singapore. The Ministers were of top talent – brilliant and highly motivated. Almost all of them were from outside of the PAP. They were head-hunted, put on the ground to learn the ropes of grassroots works for a short period of time before being fielded as PAP candidates in the subsequent election and made Minister of State and later a full Minister.

    What about Tun? He wrote so much about the culture of inbreeding amongst the Malays in his ‘Malay Dilemma” and yet it was the very same culture that he was dead against, that he practiced in his 22 years of rule as PM. It was the same UMNO corrupt politicians he appointed and re-appointed ad nauseam as Ministers. Rarely was a Malay Minister from outside of UMNO.

    He experimented with new talent by bringing in Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Daim and both fell out of favour not because they were not able but because they were too smart and independent to his liking. The fate of his DPM’s (including Anwar) was no better as they too exited office unceremoniously with their terms cut short. Tun himself appeared to have acknowledged his ultimate failure, when he openly sobbed before an UMNO Assembly after announcing his intention to step down as PM. The sight of seeing his Ministers shedding crocodile tears must have hurt him even more as he must have thought what a bunch of corrupt back-stabbers they were.

    Unlike LKY, Tun never groomed second line leadership or made leadership renewal an on-going process. There is nothing for LKY to learn from Tun but there is plenty for the latter to learn from the former.

    K. Das, I enjoy reading your comments. Both men are egoist; otherwise they would not reached the pinnacle of power. That’s where their commonality ends. They took different paths and one ended with a strong finish whereas the other, Mahathir, does not know when to end and be a statesman. In fact, he has reverted to being a Malay ultra( or racist) in his old age.–Din Merican

  36. TDM putting the blame squarely on LKY is really very unprofessional of someone who was once a PM. TDM’s senility must be getting worse.

    TDM, he had the power when he was PM to put things right but he didn’t. And now, even in his retirement, he is refueling racial disharmony via Perkasa. TDM is not doing or saying a single thing to unite the races. So, what’s all this bullshit about blaming the start of racial problems on LKY. TDM is a very negative person, and I too, without any doubt, would willingly support LKY’s ideals than listen to garbage from TDM.

  37. Mahathir is of Indian heritage claiming to be a Malay. How to respect a guy who lives in denial? His political propaganda and agenda with UMNO and later with PERKASA is the crux for racism in Malaysia. From day 1 he played the race card and manipulated with the Constitution. Just go back during the time of his ruling and see how many times he amended the Constitution.

    Din, the Mericans in Penang are of Indian heritage and Muslim. Can you consider yourself a Malay and Bumiputra?

  38. The common interests of a society are best served by the pursuit of individual interests on a level playing field (which must be open and transparent) under the framework of the rule of law (which must be efficient and non-corrupt) with a certain degree of social responsibility and social justice.

    I cannot say the above belief is always true, but unless and until someone can convince me otherwise, I find it very difficult not to adhere to my belief.

    Malaysia is a country with a lot of potential. But unfortunately, we do not have policies that ensure we’ve a competitive level playing field that will allow all Malaysians to compete and excel on a level playing field. This is hindering Malaysia and Malaysians from scaling new heights in all areas (Science, Technology, Economic developments, etc.)

    We’re not just competing among ourselves (Malays, Chinese, Indians, etc.) in Malaysia, we must see the global picture, we’re competing globally against all the best from all countries (US, Germany, Japan, etc.) around the world.Unless we’ve a competitive level playing field in Malaysia, otherwise we’ll never catch up with the advanced countries (like US, Germany, Japan, etc.), let alone to compete with these advanced countries.

    It is time for Malaysia to realize, if we care about Malaysia, if we aspire to be the best, Malaysia must change and implement policies that ensure we’ve a competitive level playing field that will allow all Malaysians to compete and excel on a level playing field in all areas of endeavors.

    Malaysia is a country with a lot of potential.With competitive level playing field, with good and clean government, there’s no doubt we can make Malaysia the best in the world with all the different races living and progressing in harmony.

  39. It was an unsolicited comment by LKY. Let us be clear on this. Did not Tun MM have a right to respond? Do we as neighbours poke into each others’ affairs? We have not done so.

    Yes, Singapore in the eyes of the world is a model success story. If you accept that the end justifies the means and hold LKY on the pedestal, I append two links for your consideration.

    One to see the man LKY who once was and the other for an alternative view.

    Thank you

  40. Let us maintain our composture. Both Dr MM & LKY are ” dictators ” and are brilliant strategists in theire different ways. But one thing damning about Mahathir’s regime was after he came into power, he fell into this negative Malay culture of marginalising, (indeed getting rid of them), the good professional Malays with skills and good educational background, especially those western-educated, who were generally nurtured with sound principles of intergrity & honesty

  41. Picojplayboy, of vintage, as late LKY, said 95% of wealth falls on Chinese Sporeans hand, (whether factually true, the figure, is not important), but he should know, given his vintage years, that such wealth was not robbed or taken from another race, but hard earned, saved and slogged. So what’s wrong with that? LKY’s successor famously said, in an asean summit, “if you don’t want to progress faster, that’s your choice, but you cannot demand others must also slow down ( or to that effect). No need to guess who he was referring to. See how China progress in just over 3 decades! Hard work.

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