KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are free to decide their own lifestyle as long as they abide by the law, says Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie.

Speaking in response to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s comment on chopsticks, Heng said that there is no need to seek the approval or acceptance of others.

“Dr Mahathir’s remarks not only expose his discrimination against the Chinese but also a wild ambition to assimilate everyone,” said Heng.

“It is also in violation of Articles 10 and 152(1) (a) of the Federal Constitution that provides the rights and freedom to mother-tongue education and lifestyle for every ethnicity,” she added.

Heng said this during her speech at the 46th Wanita MCA Annual General Meeting on Saturday (Dec 18).

Dr Mahathir, during the launch of his new book Capturing Hope: The Struggle Continues For A New Malaysia on Dec 12, had referred to the continued use of chopsticks by the Chinese community here as a challenge in assimilating non-Malays.

He had said that: “the Chinese eat with chopsticks, they don’t eat with their hands. They have not adopted the Malaysian way of eating food.

“They retained the chopstick, which is an identity from China, not Malaysia, and many other things,” he reportedly said.

Heng added that since the founding of Malaysia, Barisan Nasional has always advocated harmony between each race instead of assimilation.

“Find common ground amidst our differences, and form a symbiosis. Combine the strengths and resources of all ethnicities for a shared prosperity,” said Heng.

“Due to our multi-stream education system, many Malaysians can generally utilise numerous languages; the world recognises our proficiency in multilingualism and it’s our advantage in international business,” she added.

Heng said that the languages, cultures, religions and traditions of 103 ethnicities have served as potent attractions for tourists.

“Our diversity is a national asset that must be cherished,” she said.

Heng added that Wanita MCA would safeguard mother-tongue education and the multistream education system provided by the Federal Constitution, in addition to supporting the Prime Minister’s concept of “Keluarga Malaysia.”

She added that it was of importance to secure “pluralism, moderation, and democratic principles” and oppose any attempt by political parties or individuals who try to impose personal values onto others.

“Similarly, a word of advice for a certain ‘not Chinese’ political party — stop self-belittling to please your allies to the extent of denying your ancestral roots, ceding everything and capitulating to assimilation,” said Heng

“We need to be able to discern right from wrong. What’s the meaning of politics without principles, even if it nets you a few seats, till you’d lose all your dignity as a result? What should Malaysian Chinese do when you sacrifice all our rights and interests leaving us feeling embarrassed,” she added.

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