JAKARTA – The Bugis ethnic community in Indonesia is still waiting for a public apology from Malaysia’s former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who allegedly insulted people of Bugis descent at an opposition gathering in Selangor recently.
Malaysian Honorary Consul in Sulawesi, Halim Kalla said the entire Bugis community in Indonesia, especially Sulawesi was offended by Dr Mahathir’s statement and they had sent their protests to the Malaysian Ambassador in Indonesia.
“I have also expressed regrets over the statement by (Dr) Mahathir to Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, and the Bugis community has also demanded that Dr Mahathir apologise for his gaffe on the Bugis people,” he told Bernama here today.
He said as a respectable former leader, Dr Mahathir should not insult any race in the world and if he had a made a mistake, he should not continue to remain quiet without apologising.
When addressing a gathering of opposition parties on Oct 14, Dr Mahathir had reportedly said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak came from Bugis pirate ancestry.
Halim said even though Dr Mahathir had his political differences with Najib, he should not insult any race, what more a community which had served in forming the government of Malaya.
He said the Bugis community was a race whose diaspora throughout the world had always held the philosophy of blending themselves with the local environment and as such, Dr Mahathir should not insult the Bugis diaspora in Malaysia by describing them as pirate descendants.
He added Dr Mahathir should be aware that the insult against the community had also offended Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla and former president B. J. Habibie who were of Bugis descent.
Halim said as Malaysia’s representative in Sulawesi, he was also offended as he was of Macassar Bugis descent.
“Apologise and admit the mistake as it is the character of a true leader and we hope Dr Mahathir will display such a value as statesman.”
Recently, the Indonesian Bugis Macassar Youth Assembly demanded that Dr Mahathir make a public apology over his statement.
Its leader, Arwin Welhamina said the group would hold a massive demonstration in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta soon if Dr Mahathir declined to apologise.
Meanwhile, Zahrain (Malaysian ambassador) told Bernama that Dr Mahathir should apologise quickly over the matter as it had caused problems to Malaysians in Indonesia.
“As a statesman, Dr Mahathir should not utter such words and now it has put the embassy and Malaysians in Indonesia in danger as it has sparked anger among the locals of Bugis descent,” he said, adding that the former prime minister should do the right thing to preserve relations with the neighbouring country. – BERNAMA