The former premier said Malays needed welfare and supportive policies from the government.
Dr Mahathir said in his 70 years as a politician, he had witnessed how certain races became richer over time while others remained in poverty.
“The foreigners who came to Malaysia started working as labourers, but now their children and grandchildren have become rich.
“This means they are able to improve themselves, while the Malays are not so skilled in the business sector.
“Because of that, they (Malays) could not enrich themselves and that is why we need a government which has a strong Malay element to defend the positions of the Malays,” he added.
Dr Mahathir was speaking during the “Bersatu blackout” nationwide campaign in Alor Setar, Kedah, on Saturday night.
The Bersatu blackout campaign features a white hibiscus logo with a black background as a sign of protest against Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s leadership.
During Dr Mahathir’s speech, the nonagenarian said the government had come up with several policies to ensure that the nation’s wealth was distributed evenly and fairly to address the unequal distribution of wealth among races.
“But when we try to help the Malays, there are those who say the impoverished are not only the Malays, but also the Chinese and Indians,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir claimed that with the leadership of a kleptocratic government, the Malays were no longer protected and their opportunities had been diminished.
“Because the Malays are poor, they will not be able to live in cities because the cost of living there is high and they can’t afford it.
“Some of them have land in the city; someone rich would offer to buy their land and the Malays would sell it, which would lead them to moving from the city to the rural areas,” he said.
“The same is happening here in Alor Setar, where they sold land and moved away
from the town. If this isn’t addressed, the Malays will end up living at the edges of the jungle.
“God willing, if we have a strong spirit where we are not easily tempted by money, we will have the strength to take back the party that we formed in order to destroy kleptocracy,” said Dr Mahathir.
The Bersatu blackout campaign was a closed-door event, but it was published on Facebook Live.
Ulya Husamudin, who said he was dropped as Bersatu Youth Information chief two weeks ago, said the nationwide campaign started in Johor with Kedah being the second state it toured.
“We will also be heading to other states such as Perak, Melaka, and Negri Sembilan,” he said.
Ulya added that the purpose of the movement was to show that there were members of Bersatu who disagreed with the direction of the party over the past few months, especially the removal of Dr Mahathir as party chairman.
Bersatu is currently embroiled in a “civil war” after five MPs, including Dr Mahathir, were axed from the party by Muhyiddin for sitting with the Opposition bloc in Parliament.
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