May 11, 2013
Khairy Jamaluddin–The Government Spinner?
UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin has been given the task of improving the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s image abroad and his first job was to soft pedal the angry reaction by UMNO politicians towards Malaysian Chinese in the aftermath of GE13.
The government spokesman to the international media also attempted to put some distance between Utusan Malaysia’s rabid anti-Chinese rhetoric and the ruling party, saying that Utusan’s editorial stance does not reflect the views of UMNO’s top leadership.
In an interview with the Singapore Straits Times, Khairy, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son-in-law, also said that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will roll out a 100-day programme to speed up existing programmes to reduce crime and corruption, and cap the cost of living.
“These are the top three issues that weighed heavily in the urban swing,” he said, adding that Najib will continue to improve the public sector and economy, and expand civil liberties.
Following BN’s poor performance in the polls, where it lost the popular vote for the first time and where it failed to regain the economic powerhouses of Selangor and Penang, many UMNO politicians lashed at the Chinese for voting in large numbers for the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
The Chinese were called ungrateful and gullible while Najib and other BN politicians dismissed the idea of a rural-urban divide.
BN only won 133 of the 222 federal seats, down from 140 when Abdullah helmed the coalition in the 2008 elections. This time around, it also lost 31 more state seats across 12 states although the coalition got back Kedah.
Khairy said that Najib was not blaming the Chinese. “He was stating a fact that many Chinese voted against us but he did tell the BN MPs that we are not to blame any community,” he said.
In the longer term, Khairy said, the government will set up a National Unity Consultative Council to work on issues like education without affecting the status of vernacular schools.
Most analysts have come out to say the rural-urban divide was a major factor in the BN vote slide, with a major swing among the multiracial urban and middle-class electorate against the ruling coalition.
“There were differences between the low-income and the middle-income areas, as well as between the urban and rural areas,” pollster Merdeka Center’s chief Ibrahim Suffian said.Ibrahim also said that several constituencies had shown marginal BN victories that reflected a tight competition between BN and PR.