He stressed that this was a matter of concern for the entire nation as without co-operation among the races in government, instability would ensue.
“It’s a cause of worry for the whole nation.
“Once we divide ourselves into Chinese and Malays and we fight each other, that’s the end of co-operation and there will be no stability in the country,” he told reporters after attending the prize-giving ceremony of the Perdana Leadership Foundation – MPH Essay Competition 2010 here today.
Dr Mahathir was asked to comment on his Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s call for the Chinese community to vote for MCA or risk losing representation in government.
After the prime minister’s statement was likened to a threat to the community, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek came to his rescue, claiming it was merely a statement of fact.
Dr Chua added that Najib was only reiterating his party’s stance that it would not accept any post in the federal and state governments formed by BN if it did worse in the coming 13th general election than Election 2008.
Dr Mahathir agreed that Najib was stating the obvious, pointing out that should MCA fare badly in the next general election, its party leaders could not be appointed into government.
“You cannot expect that if there are no (MCA) candidates but Barisan Nasional wins, they take a DAP man as minister.
“That is not possible,” he said.
Dr Mahathir also recalled a similar scenario in 1969 when former MCA president the late Tun Tan Siew Sin had made the same assertion.
“But in any case, MCA still won quite a lot of seats then so there were candidates for MCA to be represented in government,” said Dr Mahathir.
MCA, the ruling BN coalition’s senior Chinese partner, currently only holds four out of 30 spots in the Cabinet.
Najib, who is also Umno and the coalition’s chief, said on Saturday that MCA had sent out a clear message to voters that they cannot have it both ways.
“I see the MCA sending the message that the Chinese cannot support the opposition and at the same time expect strong representation in the government. They have to choose,” he was reported as saying by state news agency Bernama.
In Najib’s defence, Dr Chua had also denied the Chinese electorate cannot be represented by leaders from other races but hinted that only MCA can lead the community in BN.
“No, it is not that the Chinese cannot be represented by Malays or Indians but because the composition of Barisan Nasional has been such that we are a multi-racial Barisan Nasional but traditionally within this Barisan Nasional umbrella, there are component parties that represent certain ethnic groups not forgetting the common interest of all Malaysians that cuts across races,” he added.
Currently, the senior party in the BN only has 15 MPs and 31 state assemblymen from the last general election in 2008.
It had contested in 40 parliamentary seats and 90 state seats in GE12.
The MCA presidential council has also backed Dr Chua’s promise to reject all government posts if it fails to win votes from the Chinese community it is supposed to represent.
Dr Chua was also reported to have said the MCA would stay in BN even if its performance remained dismal.
The former health minister has come under repeated attacks from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) bloc and his predecessor in the MCA, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, in the last two weeks since the Sarawak state election.
Dr Chua has been challenged to stake the MCA’s government positions after controversially telling its Chinese coalition partner in Sarawak, SUPP, to drop all positions in the state Cabinet after a poor showing in the state polls.
However, the MCA and Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia have clashed over the latter’s call for a “1 Melayu, 1 Bumi” campaign to unite the Malays against the growing threat of Chinese political power.