Malaysia chides Singapore’s Lee over race comments

September 22, 2006
Singapore Democrats

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Reuters22
Sep 06

Malaysia denied on Thursday that it mistreated its ethnic Chinese minority, responding to criticism from former Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew. “It’s a comment that we can do without.

It is not appreciated at all,” Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said, referring to recent remarks made by Lee.Lee told a forum in Singapore last Friday that it was vital for Singapore, a predominantly ethnic Chinese state, to stand up to its bigger, mainly Muslim neighbours, Indonesia and Malaysia.”Our neighbours both have problems with their Chinese.

They are successful. They are hard-working and therefore they are systemically marginalised,” Lee said.Singapore and Malaysia have deep economic ties, but diplomatic relations are often strained.

The two countries briefly united as one country in 1963 but separated two years later in a falling out related to racial politics.Indonesia and Malaysia “want Singapore, to put it simply, to be like their Chinese — compliant”, said Lee, who was Singapore’s prime minister from 1965 to 1990.

Najib said Malaysia did not marginalise ethnic Chinese or Indians in favour of majority ethnic Malays, who are known as bumiputras (sons of the soil).”Malaysia does not practise a policy of blocking opportunities for non-bumiputras to progress further,” he said.