KUCHING: Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should not have made a remark about chopsticks and the Chinese community when speaking about the assimilation of non-Malays in the country, says PKR candidate Cherishe Ng (pic).
Ng, 24, who is the party’s youngest candidate and will be contesting the Batu Lintang seat, also said she was offended by Dr Mahathir’s comments that referred to the continued use of chopsticks by the Chinese community here.
During the launch of his book on Sunday (Dec 12), Dr Mahathir had said that: “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 from China, not Malaysia, and many other things,” he reportedly said.
Ng said Dr Mahathir, as a figurehead of the country, should not have used such remarks when talking about assimilating non-Malays.
“We know Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country,” she said while launching her election manifesto at PKR’s operations centre in Batu Lintang on Monday (Dec 13).
“As a Chinese, I feel insulted by his comments and he should not have said such a thing.
"Chopsticks have a 4,000-year heritage and it is very common today,” she said, adding that it is used by both Malays and Dayaks.
Ng also said Dr Mahathir should have spoken about integration rather than assimilation.
“Assimilation is when you join a culture and you lose your own. Integration is when two different cultures come together and we retain our cultures,” she said.
Ng also said she hoped the future generation of politicians will strive for unity among Malaysians.
“Dr Mahathir uses examples from Indonesia, but we are Malaysia and we have a unique identity.
“I hope the new generation of leaders will push for a united Malaysia that isn’t differentiated by race and religion,” added Ng.
Dr Mahathir also said on Sunday that Indonesia was able to assimilate its Chinese population because it was relatively small, while the non-Malay population in Malaysia was huge.
He also claimed that there was a tendency for Malaysians to identify with their country of origin, despite being born and raised in the country.
Dr Mahathir said that this had caused Malaysians to be divided and led to race-based politics.
“Because of this identity with race on the ground among the people, you cannot have a multi-racial party that is trusted by everyone.
“Politics in Malaysia has always been based on race,” said Dr Mahathir.
Ng is locked in a five-cornered fight in Batu Lintang against its two-term former assemblyman See Chee How, Gabungan Parti Sarawak's (GPS) Sih Hua Tong, Sarawak’s People Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) candidate Leong Shaw Tong and Parti Bumi Kenyalang’s Voon Lee Shan.