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KUALA LUMPUR,— Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's racist remarks are destroying rather than helping the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) build up its reputation for Election 2013, MIC's strategy chief S. Vell Paari said today.
The still influential former prime minister had called Malays to defend their special rights and ticked off the other races in this mainly Muslim country for challenging the community's religious claims in the run-up to polls.
"Dr M is retired, he should not disturb the country's administration with his racist statements that do not help the government," Vell (picture) told The Malaysian Insider today, referring to the country's longest-serving prime minister of 22 years by his nickname.
"He should know Malaysians are increasingly mature, why need to use racial issues to divide the people?" said the son of former MIC president and a known staunch Dr Mahathir supporter, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.
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Vell had earlier today written a strongly-worded essay chiding his father's ex-boss after Dr Mahathir raised a pre-independence dispute over the granting of citizenship to one million immigrants who formed the country's first-generation in what is widely seen as a bid to deflect fire from an ongoing royal inquiry into Sabah's questionable population boom.
The 45-year-old MIC man signalled that Dr Mahathir's arguments were irrelevant to present-day Malaysians, two generations along, and who are now regarded as contributors to the country's progress.
Vell, who is also MIC Youth advisor, is the first politician from the BN to openly castigate the octogenarian and label his remarks as racist.
"On the Sabah RCI, (we) should be proud of Najib, although there are statements from the RCI that are less than good for the BN but BN is continuing with it, he is trying to be transparent," Vell said, in a nod to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into claims illegal immigrants were fast-tracked for citizenship to exchange for voting in the BN coalition and sustain its hold on power.
"Dr M's racial statement can only backfire on the BN. He's not helping.
"He is destroying BN's image that Najib, who has only been PM for these two, three years, has been trying to build. It's not an easy matter," Vell said.
He added that Dr Mahathir would do better to stay mum if he would not help in nation-building efforts.
Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister who was in power from 1981 to 2003, has been accused of spearheading the so-called "Project IC", in which citizenships were allegedly given to immigrants for their votes.
But former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who administered the state from 1976 to 1985, has denied the existence of "Project IC".
Dr Mahathir had last Thursday admitted to granting citizenship to foreigners during his tenure, but insisted it was all done according to the law. He has also said he is willing to testify to that before the RCI if subpoenaed.
The citizenship-for-votes allegation is one of the key issues that has been raised in the run-up to Election 2013, which must be called by April when the ruling Barisan Nasional's mandate expires.
The public inquiry in Kota Kinabalu that kicked off on January 14 is chaired by former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.
A total of 167 witnesses are expected to be called to testify, according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who finally agreed to set up a royal inquiry last year.
The royal panel has until March to wrap up its investigation.