KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 - Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad played the race card today, warning the Malays could lose their political power.
The former prime minister told a gathering of more than 1,000 at a rally organised by right wing Malay group Perkasa that the community was under threat from "various parties" which he did not specifically name.
He said that the Malays were being unfairly described as racists who practised apartheid but he contended that the community was only protecting their own rights.
"Malaysians have forgotten about the nation's history and have abused the kindness of the Malay people."
"Malays are even called immigrants in their own country. Other immigrants cannot be called immigrants. If anybody were to call them immigrants then they must apologize but no apologies are needed if they call Malays immigrants," he said.
Dr Mahathir instead accused the Chinese educationist group Dong Jiao Zong (DJZ) as racists who practised apartheid.
"That is apartheid, not us. We proposed that everyone study together in one school then only can you have bangsa Malaysia.
"But they did not want this. They did not want to mix with the other races especially the Malays. They did not want their children to mix with Malays and that is apartheid, not us."
Dr Mahathir's administration had proposed the formation of Vision Schools to group national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools in one single compound, but his idea was opposed by DJZ and only a few such institutions were ever set up.
The former prime minister also defended the rights of the Malays to speak up for themselves.
"I would like to say a little bit about the Malay people in Malaysia even though I might be accused of being racist. If the Malay people are not allowed to speak about their problems then they might become a race that do not have any rights in their own country.
"These dangers are true because we can already see the pressure and insults against our people when they are made as minorities in their own community," he explained.
Mahathir told the audience that Malays were lucky because they held political control in the country.
"Even though the Malays were divided by different political parties, there were able to unite and retain power. Malays were respected and feared but now they no longer control the country's power.
"Nowadays people no longer respect us. Whatever is asked by others, even if they are winners or losers and even if they are right or wrong, we have to entertain them. We must respect others, even a little mistake we must apologize on behalf of the Malay race.