SHAH ALAM (Bernama): The Malays and bumiputras must work harder to compete with other races in the country, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said the fact was that many Malays and bumiputras had difficult lives and lived in rural areas, even though they had political power.
"In our own country, we (Malays and bumiputras) have retreated far from conurbations, and many of us are from poor families.
"Yes, today we are powerful politically and with this power, we can extend a little assistance to the Malays and bumiputras, think about it… but if we do not have political power and we are not given special privileges, it will mean that we will be poorer than we are now," he said when opening the Bumiputra Education and Entrepreneurship Carnival 2018 at UiTM here on Saturday (Dec 8).
Also present were Dr Mahathir's wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, and UiTM vice- chancellor Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Hassan Said.
According to Dr Mahathir, despite living in their own country and being given assistance, the Malays and bumiputras are still lagging behind.
"We see foreigners who came to settle in our country becoming more progressive as they laboured, worked hard, they studied in various fields and were educated.
"We find that they are now controlling our country's economy, what is the reason? Are the Malays stupid? I do not believe so as they have the same abilities as others but intelligence alone without effort will not produce success.
"We are competent, we are smart, we are good but if there is no effort, we will not succeed.
“If we realise we are lagging behind and are embarrassed as to why we are left behind in our own country, then we should try to endeavour to make ourselves successful like other people. If we are behind, we have to run faster than the people in front," he said.
In this regard, the Prime Minister also reminded the Malays and bumiputras to be grateful to live in a peaceful and harmonious country.
He said to reciprocate this feeling of gratitude, the Malays and bumiputras need to look after the country properly.
“There are feelings we should have in us, first to be ashamed of being left behind and we will work harder to overcome our weaknesses. If we are given the opportunity to learn and master knowledge, we have to reciprocate the privilege we receive for free.
“Secondly, love for the country must be with us. We are not told to be soldiers, not told to sacrifice our lives but only asked to try developing our country, to maintain peace in the country," he said.
Responding to a question from a member of the audience on the government's stand of not ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd), Dr Mahathir said although the people of this country are multiracial, the success or position of each race was not the same.
Based on this factor, the Prime Minister said the country could not accept Icerd.
“If we do not give the Malays more opportunities than other races, if we believe we must give everything equally, in equality, then those who are competent will be more successful and those who are not will be left behind.
“As such we cannot accept Icerd as it does not give the right to us to differentiate the treatment to the races in Malaysia as they are not on the same level ... and we cannot amend our Constitution,” he said.
At the function, Dr Mahathir was awarded the 2018 Excellent Bumiputra Personality award for his contributions to the development of Malays and bumiputras. - Bernama