KUALA LUMPUR: Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said he did not mean to hurt the feelings of any race when he cited a lack of patriotism as one of the reasons for the small number of non-Malays in the army.
He said he also did not intend to question the patriotism of non-Malays in the country.
"History has proven that national heroes who fought against communists and British invaders consisted of Indians, Chinese, Kadazan, Serani and so on," he said in his ministerial statement at the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday.
"I am sad if my answer to the Parliament on Nov 9 has upset others."
He urged political party leaders, non-governmental organisations and youth movements to work together with the Government to increase the participation of non-bumiputras in the army to make the 1Malaysia concept a success.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, however, did not apologise when M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) asked him to do so.
On Nov 9, Dr Ahmad Zahid told Parliament that non-Malays made up less than 1% of new recruits in the armed forces for the 2008/2009 session.
He said this was possibly due to a "sense of patriotism that is not strong enough" the fear of the strict discipline in the Malaysian Armed Forces and less attractive pay compared to the offer from the private sector.
Other possible reasons he cited included lack of encouragement from family members and less encouragement to join the armed forces because of the various prejudices.
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