Dr M: Un­der­stand his­tory to avoid mak­ing past mis­takes

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PU­TRA­JAYA: Un­der­stand his­tory so that past mis­takes will not be re­peated to en­sure peace in the coun­try con­tin­ues to be pre­served, en­abling progress to take place and the coun­try’s wealth to be dis­trib­uted fairly, said Prime Min­is­ter Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad.

He said if the three main races in Malaysia, to­gether with the eth­nic groups in Sabah and Sarawak could unite to “work”, “live” and “play” to­gether, the coun­try could be more ad­vanced.

“For as long as we re­mem­ber our his­tory and the strug­gle the coun­try went through, then our coun­try will con­tinue to be peace­ful. When it is peace­ful, progress can be achieved and wealth can be dis­trib­uted among all races,” he said at the monthly gath­er­ing with staff of the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment, which is the first for this year here yes­ter­day.

Dr Ma­hathir said ri­ots that oc­curred be­cause of racial fac­tor, like in 1969, would not bring any ben­e­fit to any­one.

How­ever, he said, al­though there was no such riot, gap still ex­isted among the races and this was not safe for the coun­try.

Quot­ing philoso­pher Ge­orge San­tayana’s fa­mous apho­rism – ‘ Those who can­not re­mem­ber the past are con­demned to re­peat it’ – Dr Ma­hathir said it was for this rea­son that ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers and politi­cians, should make it a point to know every­thing about the coun­try’s his­tory.

Malaysia was for­tu­nate be­cause the lead­ers of all races agreed to jointly de­velop the coun­try af­ter achiev­ing in­de­pen­dence, in con­trast with those coun­tries that re­fused to ac­cept the pres­ence of peo­ple from other coun­tries, he said.

He said that in some coun­tries, those peo­ple who re­garded them­selves as the orig­i­nal in­hab­i­tants were un­com­fort­able with the pres­ence of peo­ple whom they la­belled as im­mi­grants and, af­ter achiev­ing in­de­pen­dence, they forced these so-called im­mi­grants out of their coun­tries.

In some coun­tries with­out racial prob­lems, he said, the vast gap be­tween the rich and the poor trig­gered rifts that led to ri­ots.

“We do not want the coun­try to be seen as too rich but the coun­try’s wealth is not dis­trib­uted fairly among all the races,” he said.

Dr Ma­hathir said it was for this rea­son that the gov­ern­ment fo­cused its ef­forts on erad­i­cat­ing poverty es­pe­cially among the Bu­mi­put­eras, many of whom lived in poverty in the ru­ral ar­eas com­pared with those liv­ing in towns with ad­e­quate fa­cil­i­ties.

“It is our duty to en­sure that the coun­try can dis­trib­ute its wealth equally or at a level that can be ac­cepted by all of so­ci­ety,” he added.

Dr Ma­hathir said Malaysia was for­tu­nate to have achieved in­de­pen­dence with­out hav­ing had to go through wars or ri­ots, and the coun­try’s ad­min­is­tra­tion was taken over by lead­ers who had the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing with the Bri­tish colo­nial­ists.

He said many coun­tries that were taken over by lead­ers af­ter vic­tory in wars did not de­velop well be­cause the lead­ers did not have the knowl­edge of ad­min­is­ter­ing a coun­try.

“As they do not have ex­pe­ri­ence in ad­min­is­tra­tion, we find that these coun­tries are usu­ally not well ad­min­is­tered and are of­ten ruled with an iron fist,’ he added. — Ber­nama

Dr Ma­hathir de­liv­er­ing his speech dur­ing the monthly gath­er­ing with staff of the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment at Pu­tra Per­dana. Also seen are Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Dr Wan Az­izah Wan Is­mail and Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Depart­ment Datuk Seri Dr Mu­jahid Yu­sof Rawa. — Ber­nama photo

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