DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng has joined voices with other leaders to speak up against former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's divisive comments made last week
In a Facebook statement last night, 29 June, Lim reminds that Malaysia is not "colour-coded" and the wealth of a person is not determined by skin colours.
"The Chinese community is upset at this simplistic labelling as being rich when there are many Chinese who are not. There are also many non-Chinese who are rich," said Lim.
"The colour of your skin is not the final determinant of your wealth. Let us not divide ourselves based on the colour of our skin, but on common principles of upholding justice, freedom, prosperity for all, fighting corruption and abuse of power. Corruption is committed by culprits of all colours."
While the former finance minister did not explicitly name Dr Mahathir in the post, it is obvious that the statement was a response to the latter's comments made in an interview with a Hong Kong-based media last week.
On Friday, 26 June, Dr Mahathir told Asia Times that Malaysian Chinese are a "wealthy lot"
He claimed that the Chinese community is "controlling" almost all the cities and towns in the country, reported China Press, citing the HK media's report.
"In Malaysia, we found that the inequality between urban Chinese and rural Malays is drastic. We need to correct it. I think many Chinese will agree with what I said," said the 95-year-old Langkawi MP, adding that it is "unhealthy" that they live in urban areas.
According to him, the disparity of wealth between a single ethnicity and other groups is still enough to trigger a violent revolution.
Dr Mahathir also related that in his two terms as the prime minister, he is most regretful that he had failed to narrow down the income gap among all ethnic groups.
A day after Dr Mahathir made the comments, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong criticised and accused the nonagenarian of playing the 'racial card'
On Saturday, 27 June, Dr Wee said Dr Mahathir's comments are false as the latest statistics show that the income level of Chinese has declined over the years, reported The Star.
"I am not sure if Dr Mahathir is pretending not to know, or he is merely playing the racial card," said the Transport Minister, adding that the former premier should stop perpetuating the illusion that Malaysian Chinese in the country are rich, as such unfair stereotyping would hurt racial harmony.
Dr Wee also took a jab at DAP for remaining mum on the issue, asking, "Is DAP now so afraid of telling Dr Mahathir off?"
Following Dr Wee's statement, many leaders have since joined the fray to refute Dr Mahathir's claims with facts
DAP's Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming has today, 30 June, said that it is untrue that most Malays still live in rural areas, while the cities and towns are dominated by non-Malays, reported Free Malaysia Today.
Citing 2016 figures from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), he said 75% of the total population live in urban areas.
"Of this 75%, a majority or 56% are Bumiputeras. In fact, the number of Bumiputeras who live in urban areas outnumbers those who live in rural areas two to one," Ong said.
The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap also cited a similar report from 2016 to disprove Dr Mahathir's claims, reported The Star.
Ter said 70% of the Chinese population were wage earners, only a small difference behind Malays - 72% - while 83% of Indians were wage earners.
"In addition, the data showed that 0.4% of Malaysians live in extreme poverty reach, while the absolute poor Chinese population is 0.1%. Therefore, the gap between the rich and the poor is common among all ethnic groups, including between urban and rural areas," Ter explained.
"It is a problem that all citizens must face together. This is no different from the situation in other developed European countries."
Ter is also in agreement with DAP and MCA political leaders, saying Dr Mahathir's untimely comments are harmful to racial unity - especially during a time when the whole nation is trying to get back on its feet following the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 23 June, Dr Mahathir and the team behind his social media were accused of deleting comments left by Najib Razak and his supporters: