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Ijok – a great failure not
only for MCA and Gerakan but for Pak Lah as Prime Minister who had pledged
to “hear the truth” if the reasons for the swing of Chinese voters to the
Opposition in the by-election continue to elude them
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday) : The front-page headline of Sin Chew today blared: “Chinese in Ijok support Opposition – PM wants to know why from MCA and Gerakan” .
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the other Barisan Nasional top leaders especially MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu are elated by the Barisan Nasional victory at Saturday’s Ijok by-election with a bigger majority than in the 2004 general election – but whether the country has anything to be jubilant about over the Ijok by-election on the occasion of the 50th Merdeka anniversary of the nation is a subject which should engage the serious debate of all thinking Malaysians.
Abdullah’s public puzzlement as to the reasons for the swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in the Ijok by-election and wanting to be enlightened by MCA and Gerakan bear testimony to the validity of my question as to whether the country has anything to celebrate over the Ijok by-election - whether, for instance, Najib is right that the Ijok by-election is proof that Malaysian democracy is “vibrantly alive” or whether it is the symbol of the worst culmination of electoral corruption in the past 50 years of Malaysian election history.
But what cannot be in doubt is that the Ijok by-election represents a great failure not only for MCA and Gerakan but also of Pak Lah as Prime Minister who had pledged to “hear the truth” when the reasons for the swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in the by-election continue to elude them.
In the first place, how can Abdullah hear any “truth” from the MCA when the MCA supremo in the Ijok by-election, MCA Secretary-General Datuk Ong Ka Chuan had only a day earlier publicly denied that there was any swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in Ijok by-election?
Screenshot blogger Jeff Ooi had pointed out within the hour of the announcement of the Ijok by-election result on Saturday night: “One thing appeared to be indisputable. The Chinese are voting against the government.”
But this swing of Chinese voters in Ijok had escaped the top MCA leaders although it was evident to everyone not in the top MCA leadership – including the Prime Minister and UMNO leaders. But the politics of Barisasn Nasional in 2007 has become such that what UMNO leaders see, MCA leaders (as well as Gerakan and others) will also see!
Will MCA and Gerakan leaders dare to tell Abdullah that this is one of the root causes for the swing of the Chinese voters in Ijok to the Opposition – that the Barisan Nasional (BN) is not a coalition of equals as Umno exercises political hegemony completely marginalizing all the other component parties.
I am surprised that Abdullah does not know the reasons for the swing of the Chinese voters in Ijok to the Opposition. What has he been doing in the past 42 months as Prime Minister when he had promised to “hear the truth” when assuming the highest political office in the land in October 2003?
If Abdullah had paid attention to the speeches by DAP leaders in Parliament and outside, he would have known the reasons for the swing of the Chinese voters not only in Ijok but also in Machap by-elections.
Alternatively, Abdullah can refer to the speech by the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nazrin on “Prospects and Challenges for Nation Building” on April 3, 2007 on the seven steps towards successful nation-building, in particular the first principle – “Malaysians of all races, religions and geographic locations need to believe beyond a shadow of doubt that they have a place under the Malaysian sun.”
In a nutshell, the fundamental reason for the swing of the Chinese voters in Ijok to the Opposition was precisely because they are not convinced “beyond a shadow of doubt” that they have an equal place under the Malaysian sun – a citizenship right that no amount of money can replace?
Can Abdullah expect MCA and Gerakan leaders to tell him the truth now, when they had been hiding the truth all these years and decades from Umno leaders as their political second-nature for their political survival in BN?
It will be most unfortunate if the Umno and Barisan Nasional leadership are not prepared to re-examine larger nation-building policies affecting Malays and Indians just because they have secured majority support of these two communities in Ijok – for there are deep-seated and legitimate grievances and discontents among both the Malay and Indian communities which must not continue to be ignored and neglected if the government is serious in wanting to build a united, strong, harmonious and competitive Bangsa Malaysia.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman