Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Chinese in Malaysia want an honest relationship, a genuine partnership

The impact of the Chinese tsunami' means that there has to be genuine reconciliation with the community and that Barisan Nasional has to rethink its concept.

 
Could Lim Guan Eng ever become Prime Minister of Malaysia? (Photo by Hussein Shaharuddin/The Mole)

THE Chinese voters, who are about 30% of the electorate, had fervently believed that Malay voters would also reciprocate and ubah (change) the Barisan Nasional government. However, this did not happen.

In their zeal for change, which was encapsulated in the election slogan Ini Kali Lah!, they voted out not only the MCA but also devastated Gerakan and the Sarawak-based Chinese party SUPP, giving their votes solely to the DAP.

The DAP improved on its 2008 performance, winning 38 parliamentary seats this time.

They also made significant contributions to the success of PKR, which won 30 seats, and even to PAS, which took 21.

In all, Pakatan Rakyat won 89 seats.

Barisan Nasional managed to retain power, winning 133 seats on the back of increased Malay support.
Umno candidates defeated big PAS names such as deputy president Mohamad Sabu in Pendang, deputy PAS spiritual head Datuk Harun Din in Arau and PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub in Pulai.

The Malays stayed with the tried and tested Umno.

In Sabah and Sarawak, although PKR and DAP made inroads into Kadazandusun and Chinese majority areas, the bulk of the east Malaysian seats stayed with Barisan.

The Chinese voters, who were largely out to punish Umno, were hoping that the Malays would also follow suit but they ended up punishing the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP.

In a roundabout way, one can even say that the Chinese voters also punished themselves with their decision to vote for the Opposition by taking themselves out of the Government.

Understandably, they were taken up by the excitement of the many ceramah conducted to full houses.

The MCA won only seven seats, fewer than the 15 it had when the race started. Gerakan and SUPP have been virtually wiped out.

The significance of this outcome on race relations and for Chinese political participation in the Government is staggering, to say the least.

As a multi-ethnic country it is not advisable for one community, especially the economically vibrant Chinese, to be out of the Government and sit in the Opposition bench.

While the Malays and east Malaysians, not to mention the MIC as well, have every right to demand for greater representation in the Government because of their victory in the elections, the Chinese community unfortunately cannot do so because they have voted themselves out of the Government.

The MCA had passed a resolution during its EGM before the polls that it would not accept any government position if it received fewer than the 15 seats it won in 2008. Now, its position in the Government has been rendered untenable.

It's obvious in elections that winners go on to form the Government and losers stay out. That's exactly what the MCA is proposing following GE13's outcome to stay out.

Barisan chief Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was visibly upset over the way his Government has been rejected by the Chinese voters.

It's not that they rejected him or his Government per se but they rejected all the other baggage that came with it. There was the perception that he has been winning Malay support by raising Malay fears.

They (the Chinese) want an honest relationship like the way the Pakatan state governments have been doing in engaging them.

They believe that the DAP government in Penang and the PKR-run government in Selangor are examples of what they want in a Government and if Najib could emulate these, he would, no doubt, get their support.

Najib has promised national reconciliation as part of the new Government's efforts to heal the wounds of GE13.

While sharing power with losers would be difficult, Najib would have to find other ways to work with and accommodate the Chinese community. The best way to do this is to engage the Opposition parties.

The Opposition parties, for good or worse, now represent the Chinese community.

Now that he has his own mandate, Najib will have to look at the very concept of Barisan itself - because it is clearly not working.

Barisan should either think of reconstituting itself as one big multi-racial party, as was talked about post-2008, or form alliances even with the Opposition parties for the good of the people.

The era of one party representing one race is long over the MCA, MIC and even Umno should consider opening up.

What the Chinese also desire is genuine partnership.

These are long-term goals. For now, Najib has to find a formula which includes Chinese representation in the Government, not by making losers into senators and then ministers, but by genuine reconciliation with the community and on its terms.

COMMENT
By BARADAN KUPPUSAMY


Related posts:
Malaysian Chinese tsunami ! 
Update Malaysian election GE13 ressults
Malaysian GE13: In sickness and in health?

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