PUTRAJAYA, 12 Nov 2008: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said everyone could be Malaysia’s prime minister as long as the person is of Bangsa Malaysia and acceptable to all Malaysians.
The former prime minister said that in this country, the law provided that anybody could become prime minister although the person must be the leader of the party that commanded the majority support.
“When we talk about non-Malay PM (prime minister), we are being racist. We should not ask the question whether he is a Malay or non-Malay,” he told reporters after delivering his keynote address at the Perdana Discourse Series on “Bangsa Malaysia” here today.
Mahathir was commenting on whether Malaysia was ready to have a non-Malay prime minister in light of the recent outcome of the US presidential election, where Barack Obama became the first elected African American US president.
Earlier in his keynote address, Mahathir said the race-based Barisan Nasional (BN) was still relevant to tackle racism.
“The BN has proven that for the last 50 years, the party has actually reduced the debate on racism and developed this country to the level that we are today,” he said.
Mahathir also denied that the BN did not do well in the last general election because of rejection from the people who were sick of race politics.
“To say that the BN did not do well because people rejected the race-based party is quite wrong. How can they say the rejection was because of the race-based party … because the party they are supporting like PAS, DAP and Keadilan are also race-based parties.
“Why they don’t like the social contract, it is because of the race [factor]. Why they want a non-Malay PM, this is because of the race [factor too],” he added.
Mahathir said the issue should be addressed slowly and the people must be prepared to make a sacrifice.
“That can only be done, of course, not through the opposition party but to go back to the race-based party, BN. I think the race-based parties are still relevant whether we like it or not”, he added. — Bernama