Malaysia's new DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi shows off Mandarin skills to win over Chinese

Newly appointed Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Newly appointed Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.PHOTO: THE STAR

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, newly promoted in a Cabinet reshuffle last month, is making use of his skills in Mandarin in an attempt to win over the Chinese community.

Datuk Seri Zahid told Chinese newspaper Oriental Daily in an interview over the weekend that he had studied Mandarin when in university in 1973.

"Wo lai zi ma lai ya da xue (I came from the University of Malaya)," he said in Mandarin.

When asked by reporters if he could speak more words in Mandarin, he replied, "No problem, no big problem," in Mandarin, to applause from the reporters, reported the Oriental Daily.

He said: "Wo men dou shi ma lai xi ya ren. Wo shi ma lai ren, but, wo men dou shi ma lai xi ya ren (We are all Malaysians. I am Malay, but we are all Malaysians)."

The Malaysian leader has been trying to woo the Chinese since taking his new job.

Former DPM Muhyiddin Yassin was sacked from the role in the Cabinet reshuffle, which came after hiw criticism of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal that is plaguing his boss, Prime Minister Najib Razak.

During the interview with the Oriental Daily, Mr Zahid also revealed that he was raised by a Chinese foster father and his Hainanese family for about six years when he was in primary school.

He added that he is still close to his foster father today.

"Does that mean I am anti-Chinese? Because I have a Chinese foster father," said Mr Zahid to the Oriental Daily.

"I am not ultra-Malay. As a Malaysian leader I have to be fair to everybody."

However, a reporter asked Mr Zahid about his comments where he had vowed to fight for Islam and Malays.

Mr Zahid responded that despite holding such principles, he does not forget the other races, religions, cultures and languages in the country.