TAIPING - The "race" column in government forms and paperwork will be retained, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He was clarifying an earlier announcement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun, who had said that there would be a gradual move by the Government to drop racial categorisation in official forms and paperwork.
"It could be hard for us to obtain certain figures if the information and data is insufficient.
"Should certain ethnic groups fall behind, it is the Government's responsibility to help do the necessary with fair distribution of the country's wealth," Najib said after opening the Taiping Umno building here yesterday.
He then stressed that the column was not to widen the gap between races.
"Each ethnic group will get fair consideration. No one will be left behind in terms of development and assistance," he said.
On Wednesday, Entulu announced that there was a decision to drop the race category gradually, though there were still three categories of official forms which would retain that categorisation.
Yesterday, Entulu issued a statement that claimed that the media did not report him correctly in the first place.
"The inaccurate reports caused uneasiness in society. However, I apologise for the confusion," he said.
Meanwhile, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the matter was not raised at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Abdul Rahman said Entulu had proposed the matter under the "any other business" part of the agenda.
"We did not agree to the race category being dropped.
"We are not being racist but practical.
"We need social policies and there are groups that need help - so we need such information.
"How do you help the orang asli, those in Sabah and Sarawak? There are so many groups.
"We need to know their details and have the statistics," Abdul Rahman said yesterday.