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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 23rd September 2009: 

Fallacy to automatically equate Prime Minister’s Hari Raya Open House crowd with support for his 1Malaysia slogan

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Cabinet Ministers’ Hari Raya Open House at Sri Perdana on the first day of the festivities on Sunday had a good crowd, but it is a fallacy to automatically equate Najib’s Hari Raya Open House crowd with support for his 1Malaysia slogan.

The mainstream media refer to a crowd of 50,000 to 60,000 for the Prime Minister’s Open House at Sri Perdana on Sunday.

If crowd numbers is a measure of public support for the incumbent Prime Minister’s policies and slogans, then how is one to interpret the crowd sizes of Hari Raya Open Houses of previous Prime Ministers, Tun Abdullah and Tun Mahathir?

A check with reports of past years will show the following crowd numbers cited in the mainstream media for Abdullah’s six Hari Raya Open Houses during his tenure as Prime Minister:

2003 - 70,000 (NST 26.11.03)
2004 - 200,000 (NST/Malay Mail 16.11.04)
2005 - 100,000 (Malay Mail 5.11.05)
2006 - 200,000 (Berita Harian 26.10.06)
2007 – 200,000 (NST 15.10.07)
2008 - 200,000 (Harian Metro 3.10.08)

With Najib’s first Hari Raya Open House crowd reported as 50,000 to 60,000 in the mainstream media, is this an indication of reduced support for Najib and his 1Malaysia slogan as compared to the public support given to his predecessor not only after Abdullah won the biggest-ever Barisan Nasional electoral mandate in the March 2004 general elections but also after he had suffered the worst Barisan Nasional electoral defeat in the political tsunami of March 8, 2008 general elections?

For both occasions in November 2004 and October 2008, the mainstream media reported 200,000-strong crowds for Abdullah’s Hari Raya Open House.

Or were these crowd figures during Abdullah’s premiership completely unreliable and unfair to Najib as they were very inflated figures multiplied three or four-fold?

As for Mahathir’s Hari Raya Open House as Prime Minister , Berita Harian reported in 2002 a crowd of 50,000. (BH 17.12.2001)

Be that as it may, the lesson to be drawn is that one should not succumb to the fallacy of automatically equating the Prime Minister’s Hari Raya Open House crowd with support for his 1Malaysia slogan, especially when Najib is very ambivalent as to its real meaning, sending out conflicting messages of what he himself understood as 1Malaysia.

This was illustrated by his Hari Raya Message where he called on Muslims and the people of Malaysia to strengthen harmony and break down any prejudice for the sake of the future generation.

While this call finds common support, his subsequent statement deploring ”certain quarters who peddle hatred and try to deny this” highlights how polarized and divided Malaysians have become – with Malaysians sharply divided as to who are these “certain quarters who peddle hatred and try to deny this” with the Shah Alam cow-head protest sacrilege as the latest example.

1Malaysia would have halted the braindrain of the best and brightest of Malaysians overseas. But there are no such signs. Confidence in Najib’s 1Malaysia cannot be high when a commentator ended his article yesterday about the dilemma of the Malay middle class with the question: “Is it any wonder that some Malays – some of the best and brightest – are starting to vote with their feet?” (Karim Raslan – “Caught between two extremes” Star 22.9.09)

If the nation is moving towards 1Malaysia, we should become increasingly competitive internationally, but three recent indicators show the reverse is the case for Malaysia – that we are losing in the international competitiveness race, viz:

  • Three-place fall from 21st to 24th ranking in World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010;

  • Two-place fall in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings 2009 from 21st to 23rd placing.

  • A net FDI outflow of US6 billion in 2008, more than double the US$2.7 billion net outflow posted in the previous year – Unctad’s World Investment Report 2009 released last week.

Time is running out for Najib to salvage the 1Malaysia slogan before it is dismissed as an empty and meaningless motto like previous slogans of his predecessors.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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