PUTRAJAYA, Nov 8 – Don’t abuse the freedom of speech, expressions and media given by the government to stir up trouble on matters concerning race and religion, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
Mahathir said while the government is all for the freedom to speak and express one’s views, this should not be taken as a free pass to cause trouble, especially on matters of race and religion.
“While there are legislations available to stop such attempts, the most effective will always be how the people respond to it.
“If the rakyat are not taken up at all by these zealots, they will be exposed,” he said in his speech when launching Poh Kong Jewellers’ Gold Note of Hope at the Perdana Leadership Foundation (PLF) today.
Mahathir, who is Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman, said the country was blessed that despite extremists and fanatics trying to stir racial and religious zealotry, the majority of people have either rejected or ignored them.
“But that doesn’t mean we should take it for granted that they will not be able to galvanise and mobilise to inflict untold damages,” he said.
Also present were former international trade and industry minister Rafidah Aziz and Poh Kong’s executive chairman and group managing director Choon Yee Seiong.
Choon had, earlier in his speech, pledged RM1 million to Tabung Harapan.
Mahathir thanked Choon for the pledge and said that the launch of the Gold Note could not have come at a more opportune time, as Malaysia and Malaysians were at the cornerstone on how to move forward as a nation.
“It is my hope that this initiative will inspire other business entities to come forward and contribute to the nation that has, I’m sure, been kind to them.
“Having successfully liberated our nation and ourselves from the shackles of kleptocracy and an oppressive regime, we now have to manage that success.
“It is not easy. Expectations on the government are very high and that makes the responsibilities heavier. Such expectations are only to be expected given the high hopes pinned on the current government to clean up the mess and debts left behind by the previous regime,” he said.
However, the PPBM chairman said the government would not sit back and rue over the damage left for them to repair, and that it had pledged to restore the nation to its rightful position – as an Asian Tiger and a respected nation with pride and integrity.
“We are going to give it our best and our only hope is that the citizenry will bear with us with our missteps. But whatever it takes, we have committed ourselves to undertake this task.
“It is also our hope that as we trudge forward on this journey, the rakyat will rally around and join us in rebuilding this country,” he said.
Mahathir said his trips abroad have constantly reminded him that Malaysia is a gem in its own right.
“Trust me, I’ve travelled the width and length of the world and throughout those trips, as I admire the achievements and beauty of those nations, I’m always fully conscious that Malaysia is a gem in its own right.
“It is not just about the physical beauty that Malaysia is blessed with, but we are blessed that we do not face catastrophes that devastate and kill thousands despite us being on the peripherals of the Ring of Fire,” he said.
Mahathir added that the support and scrutiny of the people would ensure the country achieves its common objectives tailored towards the wellbeing of the rakyat.