May 31, 2013
Regressive Polls Reaction
by P. Gunasegaram, Founder Editor, KiniBiz
“UMNO needs to free itself from those who will destroy it to protect their own narrow interests by race baiting.” –Gunasegaram
QUESTION TIME: The reactions to the elections by Barisan Nasional and UMNO in particular and related organisations is nothing short of shocking. It reflects an alarming and regressive move towards hardline stances which are blatantly racist and with complete disregard to what the election results themselves indicate the electorate wants.
Considering that the majority of voters were against BN and by implication UMNO, the stance towards needless toughness and the callous appeal to base racial hatred will only alienate the BN from the public who have clearly indicated they want change for the better and which have by and large rejected race itself as an issue.
It reflects a belligerent, biased, boorish and childish response to election results by influential quarters, including ministers, a former prominent judge, Utusan Malaysia editors and others who have successfully drowned out a few reasonable voices within UMNO and hijacked the so-called reconciliation process post-elections.
Persisting with these actions has not only put paid to the reconciliation process but unnecessarily raised tensions among all people. This may have been the intention of those who raised these issues in such a manner in the hope of keeping themselves and their ilk in power by perpetuating fear.
But in the end, those who play with fire are likely to burn themselves. Malaysians are already aware that the race card is repeatedly played to trump all manner of ills facing Malaysia, and especially UMNO and BN patronage, corruption and cronyism which lead to a plethora of social ills.
If UMNO goes on along this line and if the government machinery, including the police, continue to selectively prosecute only those opposed to them, they can expect a severe backlash from the electorate five or less years down the line.
If anyone was taken in by the promises of moderation, change, and concern for the electorate that were a constant refrain of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s pre-election campaigning, they would now think more than twice before voting BN.
Ironically it was Najib himself who set the ball rolling on election night, or rather early morning the next day, when he blamed the Chinese tsunami for the downturn in BN’s fortunes.
While more Chinese may have voted Opposition, it was more than abundantly clear that all urban voters turned away from Barisan, while voters in significant rural Malay areas such as Terengganu and Pahang as well as the Malay heartland areas in Selangor turned towards Pakatan Rakyat.
Even DAP’s Lim Kit Siang could not have won in Gelang Patah against former Johor Chief Minister Abdul Ghani Othman with such a large majority without Malay support.
That BN’s fortunes turned down only because of the Chinese swing is a blatant lie which has been perpetrated over and and over again by the usual string of suspects. There was a broad swing against BN and UMNO in many areas. Najib never retracted or clarified his position over the Chinese tsunami statement.
Closet and not-so-closeted radicals come out
Encouraged by this, the closet and not-so-closeted radicals came out, and unfortunately included a former top judge. Malaysikini reported that former Court of Appeal Judge Mohd Noor Abdullah (left) warned that the Chinese Malaysians must be prepared for a backlash from the Malay community for their “betrayal” in the recently concluded 13th general election.
“The Chinese betrayal towards the Malay’s hand of friendship – that is true. Because they plotted to seize political power even though they already have economic power,” he said to raucous applause at a forum in Kuala Lumpur.
How can voting for one party or the other be termed “betrayal”? In this case the Chinese voted for PAS and PKR which are also Malay-based parties. Must the Chinese always vote for BN-based Malay parties; UMNO in other words? And how could a community which forms just 28 percent of the electorate seize power without Malay participation and concurrence?
That a former Court of Appeal judge should make such racist comments and propagate lies in the process, aimed at inciting and inflaming the emotions of the majority community, is unbelievable. Most Malays, however, are not likely to buy such arguments.
And that newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, which publicly proclaims itself as the defender of Malay rights, published an incendiary, provocative article titled ‘Apa lagi Cina mahu?’ as if the Chinese were solely responsible for BN’s poorer fortunes in the election. Even if they were – and they were not the only reason – so what? Is it not up to BN to ask itself why it alienated the Chinese community so much?
Didn’t the Indian community, a previous strong supporter, reject BN in 2008 because it felt that the government did not do enough for the Indian community and could not even prevent the very violent deaths of Indians in police detention?
In fact days after the election, yet another Indian was violently killed in a police lock-up. The suspects – Policemen – have merely been transferred to desk duties, instead of being subjected to intensive questioning after being detained which is the normal procedure for murder.
Utusan Malaysia went on to write an incredibly racist series of articles on the election. When AirAsia X’s CEO Azran Osman Rani twittered his private objections, the newspaper launched a tirade against him and the airline.
The authorities remained silent. The new Inspector-General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar, cautioned all parties not to make seditious statements in the wake of the general election, but ignored Utusan Malaysia’s reports.
Somewhere along the way, the new Home Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, callously called on those who were unhappy with election procedures to migrate and when police arrested speakers who had spoken earlier at a forum on May 13 against racism, disavowed any responsibility.
If these don’t represent a firm return to the bad old days, accompanied with total silence on these issues by Najib, what else is? But if UMNO thinks that this is what will save them, they are sadly, badly mistaken.
If they carry on this way they will find out for themselves that they will lose the next election – phantom voters or no phantom voters. UMNO needs to free itself from those who will destroy it to protect their own narrow interests by race baiting.