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What's in a name

  • The government is duty-bound to protect the confidentiality of a private citizen's particulars. Making an issue out of a person's identity is contemptible.

Sin Chew Daily

In the world of Malay politics, a person's background has always been something ultra sensitive.

DPM Ahmad Zahid flashed his handphone days ago, telling Umno delegates that he had the picture of Mahathir's IC in his phone, and that his real name was "Mahathir Anak Lelaki Iskandar Kutty".

The delegates were taken aback, and when the news was spread, the entire Malay society was hit by the shockwave.

Pakatan Harapan and PPBM vowed to take legal actions against Ahmad Zahid and JPN for disclosing confidential information, while Mahathir himself challenged Ahmad Zahid to show the IC picture.

Indeed, it is a matter of confidentiality, and the government is duty-bound to protect such private information.

But, what comes more crucial is that the factional fights in the Malay politics have now been elevated to a level involving purity of blood

Everyone knows Mahathir has Indian blood, and the name he has been using is "Mahathir bin Mohamad".

From his autobiography A Doctor in the House, and Malaysian Maverick by Australian journalist Barry Wain, I came to know that indeed Mahathir's father was hailing from India -- most probably the state of Kerala -- and was married to a local Malay woman after he settled down in Kedah.

As an Indian Muslim, and the fact one of his parents being a Malay, Mahathir is veritably a mamak, one type of Malays.

Even though mamaks are generally perceived as half-bred by the mainstream Malay society, at least they are still accepted into the league.

Under such circumstances, it doesn't come as a problem for Mahathir's background and the word "bin" in his name to reflect his Malay identity.

But, if he is "Mahathir a/l Iskandar Kutty", the "a/l" (anak lelaki) acronym being a standard for the name of male Indian Malaysians, it shows that he is the son of Iskandar Kutty.

And the name "Kutty" itself is unmistakably Indian.

We can deduce from here that Mahathir's identity is one of an Indian man, or perhaps he is more Indian than Malay.

What Ahmad Zahid was trying to imply was that Mahathir himself is not that "Malay" after all, but has exploited his Malay identity to join Umno to advance his own motives.

Going forward, the PPBM and Pakatan Harapan Mahathir is leading is not led by a "real" Malay, and will therefore not fight for the interest of the Malay people.

Ahmad Zahid's action has drawn the ire of Pakatan and PPBM which have dismissed the act as a wicked personal attack meant to divide the Malay society.

Personally I do not think making an issue out of a person's identity is anything respectable.

Having said that, the issue of Mahathir's background was already raised by the opposition when he was Umno president and prime minister. Semangat 46, PKR and PAS all made a big fuss before over Mahathir's Indian descent.

The thing is, Mahathir is now a member of the opposition, and it is now the ruling party's turn to play up this issue, and to a much bigger and wilder extent.



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