Zahid reveals Chinese family ties

KUCHING • Newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi disclosed that he was raised by a Chinese foster father and also spoke in Mandarin as he sought to persuade the Chinese community that he is not a Malay-rights extremist. In an interview with KTS Group's print media and radio station last Saturday, Datuk Seri Zahid denied claims that he is "ultra Malay", saying he is fair and firm to all.

He pointed out that he was raised by a Chinese foster father and regarded his foster siblings as his own, the Malay Mail Online reported yesterday.

"I will not relate this if Ding (Lee Leong, executive editor-in-chief of Oriental Daily) did not ask this question. But now is the best opportunity to tell. I am not an ultra Malay. As a Malaysian leader, I have to be fair to everyone, to all Malaysians," he was quoted as saying in a transcript of the interview on The Borneo Post.

KTS Group operates The Borneo Post, Utusan Borneo, See Hua Daily News, Oriental Daily and TEA FM. "I must tell Chinese journalists that I have a Chinese foster father. I sold ice-cream together with him way back when I was in Primary 1 to Primary 6," 62-year-old Mr Zahid said during his first visit to Sarawak as Deputy Prime Minister.

He is also Home Minister.

"His children are like my own siblings... Until now, I still maintain my relationship with them," he added.

"Am I anti-Chinese when I have a Chinese foster father?" he asked.To show he has not forgotten the Mandarin he had learnt in university, Mr Zahid told the journalists: "Wo lai zi ma lai ya da xue (I was from the University of Malaya)."

Mr Zahid said that although he fights for Islam and Malays, he has never forgotten the other races and their religions and cultures.

"For that matter, all Malaysian leaders should have a balanced treatment of all different groups of people," he added, according to the interview transcript.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2015, with the headline 'Zahid reveals Chinese family ties'. Print Edition | Subscribe