When Malaysia became independent, people said the majority race would oppress the minority races and that we would fail as a country. Racial clashes could occur and indeed in 1969, they did. This, according to Dr Mahathir, was the result of economic disparity between the Malays and the non-Malays. The result was the New Economic Policy that, although not perfect, has managed to reduce the disparity. And we have not had racial clashes since. Dr M recalls how whenever he is abroad, Malaysians there see themselves as Malaysians first. Not Chinese Malaysians or Indian Malaysians or Malay Malaysians. But just “Malaysian”. This changes when he returns home though. He hopes that someday, through mixing with each other and having common activities together, the different races back home will also learn to see themselves as Malaysian first. This will take a long time, he says, but as it is, we should be proud that the different races are able to live in peace with each other. Other multi-ethnic countries fare much worse, with ethnic strife and even killings. In contrast, Malaysia is a haven of peace and stability. He concludes that to a certain extent, we have already succeeded as Bangsa Malaysia.
Q & A