GEORGE TOWN – Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stood firm against claims that he had derided those of Bugis descent, saying he had not said anything against the Indonesian ethnic group amid a growing call by Jakarta for him to apologise.
Mahathir was alleged to have sullied Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Indonesian ancestry by comparing him to Bugis pirates in two political speeches last month.
However, Mahathir said he had never said anything against the Bugis.
“I only said something against Najib. Just read my speech,” he said after visiting flood victims in Teluk Kumbar, Bayan Lepas, here this afternoon.
Najib had many times proclaimed that he was Bugis. The Bugis originate from South Sulawesi, Indonesia.
The prime minister indirectly responded to Mahathir’s remarks at a recent event, saying the Bugis were warriors but “would not stoop to his level”.
Mahathir’s remarks also reportedly upset the Bugis people in Indonesia, resulting in the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta increasing security at the embassy’s premises.
On Oct 20, the embassy received a memorandum from the Indonesian Makassar Bugis Youth Association stating its anger over Mahathir’s remarks, Bernama reported.
The Selangor Royal Court was also unhappy with the veteran statesman’s remarks, saying he had compared the Bugis with pirates, criminals and robbers.
“The verbal attacks have indirectly demeaned the history and heritage of the Selangor sultanate, which is descended from the Bugis,” the palace said in a statement.