Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has insisted that his government is not “racist at all”, pointing out that it caters to the needs of “small minorities” as well.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour yesterday, Najib said he was trying to achieve his long-term goals and vision for the country, but quickly said that “the majority of the people must not be marginalised” to maintain stability.
“We do cater as well, in a very inclusive way, for the small minorities,” he said. “We are not racist at all.”
He also revealed that “ensuring peace and harmony in Malaysia” is his priority amid growing tension among the different religions in the country.
“My priority is to ensure peace and harmony in Malaysia. That is uppermost in my mind,” Najib told Amanpour in London, where he was attending the World Islamic Economic Forum.
“It’s very alarming to see what’s happening in the Muslim world. And it’s about time we come to our senses and realise that moderation is the only path that will ensure peace and stability for the Muslim world, and for the wider world."
He was echoing his earlier statement at the UN General Assembly in New York last month where he said the greatest threat to Muslims “comes from within and not the outside world”.
Najib vehemently denied allegations of government corruption and electoral fraud during the last general election, a question which Amanpour put to him.
“By and large the allegations are totally unfounded,” he insisted.
“For example, they alleged that we brought in 40,000 people from Bangladesh to vote in the last election. And since the last election they’ve not been able to produce any evidence of that."
He drew attention to his “very positive record”, which he said included abolishing the draconian Internal Security Act that allowed for detention without trial.
Speaking about US President Barack Obama's cancelled trip to Southeast Asia last month, Najib, calling it a “missed opportunity”, revealed that his American counterpart had expressed regret at having to change his plans.
“It was a missed opportunity for Obama to assert his leadership, particularly in the context of his policy pivot towards Asia. I know he regrets it.”
Obama aborted his October 11 visit to Malaysia to handle a domestic crisis following the partial shutdown of the US federal government but had indicated that he still intended to visit the country.
“When he called me he said, ‘By hook or by crook, I will visit Malaysia next year’. So we’re looking forward to receiving him," Najib told Amanpour.
The prime minister also referred to the conflict in Egypt, which has continued to be immersed in violence since its president Hosni Mubarak was ousted two years ago. Following elections after that, Mohamed Morsi became president but the Muslim Brotherhood leader was ousted as well in July.
“I know what I would have done,” Najib said.
“I would have waited until the next election, because they were elected and deserve a chance to perform and to show their worth. But that’s water under the bridge, now. It’s not going to be easy, because there are strong positions on both sides. But there must be a form of national reconciliation.” – November 1, 2013.