The Star: Chinese Chauvinist agenda to downplay Malay support for BN

The Star has portrayed clearly its Chinese Chauvinism agenda in Joceline Tan’s much read Sunday Star political column. Tan is of the strong opinion that the Malay support for BN has waned and of late ready to give it to Chinese Chauvinist DAP.

Sunday May 23, 2010

Greater shift in the Malay vote


Contrary to public perception, it is not the Chinese vote but the Malay vote which has seen the biggest shift to the opposition over the last five general elections.

ANYONE catching a flight out of Sibu the day after the by-election would have noticed the number of Malays wearing shirts and caps bearing the rocket logo of the DAP.

They were from Peninsular Malaysia and had been in Sibu to campaign for the DAP.

“It’s just a logo. After all, they also carry our logo when we need their help,” said one Malay man, a PAS member who was waiting for the Air Asia flight to Johor Baru.

It was another sign of the shift taking place in Malaysian politics.

The Chinese electorate have made themselves heard loud and clear in the two recent by-elections and it has sent shock waves through political parties.

As a result, the rallying cry of right-wing Malay individuals and groups in recent weeks has been: “Apa lagi orang Cina mahu (what else do the Chinese want)?”

There is clearly a mismatch of awareness and perception between the more extreme ends of the two communities. Malays feel the Chinese are already ahead, economically, as least. The Chinese feel this country is as much their motherland as it is that of the Malays.

The Malay-Chinese debate will continue for a while more because it is one of those polemic issues where the proponents have made up their minds that they are the right, and the other side is wrong.

But are most of those indulging in the by-election post-mortem barking up the wrong tree?

According to Rita Sim of Insap, the MCA think-tank, Chinese support for the DAP has not changed much over the last 20 years.

Contrary to public perception, DAP’s support from mainly the Chinese, and to a lesser extent the Indians, has hovered at around one million votes for each of the last five general elections.

But support for parties like PAS and PKR shot up by more than two million votes over the same period. The Barisan Nasional, on the other hand, saw its support increase by one million votes over the same period.

“The Malay vote has shifted the most. The Chinese vote has been quite constant in trend,” said Sim.

Issues like corruption, abuse of power and good governance cut across race lines. Malays are equally concerned about these issues and that may explain why they have taken their votes elsewhere.

But the significant number of Chinese voters in the last two by-elections made it seem as though the Chinese had swung or, as some would put it, are ungrateful.

Shift to PAS

PAS has been the chief beneficiary of the Malay shift. Its share of votes has increased three-fold from only about 376,000 in 1990 to 1.1 million in 2008.

PKR’s support began with 774,000 votes in 1999, dipped to 578,000 in 2004 and surged to        1.5 million in 2008. Its support has been from primarily the Malays and Chinese who are not comfortable with the way DAP handles issues.

Politics, said Insap chairman Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan On, is also about convincing people to support you because you can guarantee their future and that of their children. It is not about whether people are ungrateful or disloyal to a political party.

“If they think we are not delivering what they want, they go elsewhere. That’s the politics of voting and it’s the same in every part of the world,” said Dr Fong.

He said the perception that the Chinese are content with immersing themselves in business and leaving politics to the Malays is also a myth in modern Malaysia.

Chinese make up only 25% of the population, but they have a high voter registration rate and make up about 32% of the electorate.

The implication here is that political awareness among the Chinese is high, and they keep in touch with issues, some more so than others. A large proportion of them are connected to the Internet.

“It’s one of the arenas where they feel that they have equal rights and they want to exercise it to the fullest. This is where parties like MCA and Gerakan feel the brunt of Chinese frustration,” said Sim.

The Chinese stuff all their anger and dissatisfaction into the ballot box. The 2008 general election was the perfect example of that.

DAP’s share of the vote in 2004 was only about 700,000 as the Chinese supported Barisan and gave Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi a ringing victory.

But barely a year later, they were stunned when he sat back and allowed Umno leaders including his son-in-law to wave the keris and rant about Malay supremacy.

Four years later, they pulled back their support and DAP’s share of the total votes increased to 1.1 million.

The Chinese are rather tactical with their vote and they look at issues. As such, DAP’s share of the votes goes up and down each election depending on the issues of the day. Likewise, that of Barisan and PKR.

PAS alone has been going up like a comet since the 1990 elections.

In that sense, the Malay shift is not only significant, it is consistently on the upward trend, with PAS drawing them like a magnet.

“The writing is on the wall, the old way of doing things are no longer working, such as goodies in exchange for votes. People are more educated, information is transmitted so fast,” said Khaw Veon Szu, executive director of Sedar, the Gerakan think-tank.

The slogan “the people are the boss” became very popular among Chinese politicians several years ago. It was borrowed from the street politics of Taiwan, where it was the common folk’s way of telling their political leaders that power lies in the hands of the people.

These days, the catch phrase among Chinese political activists is, “the people are not stupid.”

“You can’t force people to buy into an idea, you’ve got to persuade and convince them,” said Khaw.

Equal partnership

The biggest challenge to the Barisan leadership today is that voters, whether Chinese, Malay or Indian, have choices.

“They look at the various Pakatan states, they see fundamental differences among the Pakatan Rakyat components like what is happening in the Barisan. But they can also see that parties in Pakatan have a more equal partnership. DAP does not allow PAS to bully it. PAS leaders dare to tell PKR off when they disagree,” said Khaw.

Many Chinese families, said Dr Fong, have been here for more than 100 years.

“To hear Malay politicians telling them to be grateful for their citizenship is hurtful and insulting,” he said.

He said they should not be made to feel they are at the mercy of the another community. They are looking for social acceptance and mutual respect and want to be regarded as meaningful partners in nation building.

The younger generation of voters have reached the stage where they feel they do not have to put up with differential treatment.

“Instances of Indonesians getting blue ICs after only two years here, that sort of thing does not sit well on people, including Malays. And giving citizenship to old Chinese grandmothers on the eve of elections, it backfires on the authorities,” said Dr Fong.

“The Prime Minister understands it very well but those below him are still struggling to come to terms with political reality,” said Dr Fong.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has provided strong leadership since taking over and he is sincere about wanting to fix what has gone wrong.

But he has also inherited a legacy that has its roots in the Mahathir years. Najib and his 1Malaysia vision are battling decades of Chinese unhappiness and frustrations. Such sentiments cannot be reversed overnight.

The Chinese vote cannot make or break the Government because of the way parliamentary seats are configured. But enough angry Chinese can help push the other parties across the finishing line.

Those who followed the recent Sibu campaign had the feeling that many of the Chinese in Sibu, like their counterparts in Hulu Selangor, had made up their minds about voting for change. Hence, the limited effect of all those generous gestures to Chinese schools and local infrastructure.

Does this mean that the majority of Chinese are a lost cause to the Barisan and that they have decided to throw their lot with Pakatan?

“The Chinese vote will definitely be hard to get in the next general election but if the PM keeps up the momentum and reaches out, it will cool the anger and stem the tide,” said Sim.


The analysis is believed charged with an agenda. The fact is that, the Malay support for PAS has actually started to reduce. This is apparent in the Manek Urai and Bagan Pinang by-elections, where PAS candidates are pitted against UMNO-BN. Despite the reduction of Chinese support for BN at the Hulu Selangor by-elections few weeks ago,  P. Kamalanathan amassed almost 2,000 votes shift against the PKR Malay candiddate Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim, compared to the general elections two years ago. These votes could only be attributed to the majority Malay support for BN, even though PKR had a Malay candidate and PAS went in as full force, which include the appearance of PAS spiritual leader Dato’ Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

It was the UMNO charged Malay votes that is mainstay of BN still retaining power in most states in the Peninsular.  As a matter of fact, MCA, Gerakan and MIC still have representatives because of Malay votes in their respective constituencies. Gerakan and MIC are actually paralyzed as even their own members no longer vote for them.

Miss Tan’s analysis is skewed. Hulu Selangor by-elections saw the down shift of Chinese votes against BN. In the Sibu by-elections, the 65% Chinese majority population is the force being shifted votes from BN to Chinese Chauvinist DAP.

In a nut shell, there is no shift for Malay support towards Pakatan Rakyat and specifically for DAP. On the contrary to this analysis, PAS is the one actually suffering from slight diminishing of the Malay support. Even former PAS strategy director Dr Zulkifli Ahmad admitted this.

This analysis could be seen as nothing but the editorial playing the Chinese Chauvinist agenda card in a poor sordid attempt to deflect on MCA’s poor performance to entice and bring back the Chinese votes. As a senior partner of BN, MCA is dependent on Malay votes for their 15 MPs to be voted in the last general elections. The pressure should be on the MCA, who is supposed to work harder to convince the more sophisticated Chinese voters. Instead, recently at Hulu Selangor by-elections MCA President Dato’ Seri Chua Soi Lek has resorted to blame PERKASA for the diminishing Chinese votes for BN. The counter argument against that is very apparent: PERKASA wasnt around in the last general elections and MCA’s already plagued with miserable performance when they lost more than half the Parliamentary seats contested.

There are Malay liberals especially in the urban areas are now ready to vote Chinese Chauvinist DAP but the number is very small and pathetically marginal to make a slight change. To charge there is actually a ‘shift’ is wholesomely deflecting the real and grave issue that the MCA failed and continuously failing to bring in the Chinese votes.

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 08:29  Comments (10)  

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree that Miss Tan’s analysis is skewed.

    The Malays are coming back. But at the moment they are hesitating because of Najib’s over libralism which can be describe as unnecessary. It is neither appreciated nor asked for by the chinese.

    Another thing “The Chinese feel this country is as much their motherland as it is that of the Malays.” Come again? What version will it be? Will it be everything chinese, such as school, national language, road sign… I can go on..


  2. Bro

    I agree with you 101%!

  3. Joceline’s analysis is onviously an instruction from arrogant Chua Soi Lek to blame others but themselves.

    UMNO is making inroad agst PAS/PKR and our PAS/PKR friends acknowledge it.

    This is nothing but a self preservation stunt. If this is the way MCA is trying to find their relevence amongst the Chinese, they are doing a bad job.

    Dulu salahkan Perkasa, sekarang twisting fact to salahkan UMNO?

    Everytime MCA points a finger at others, three finger is pointing at itself.

    Do realise 12 out 15 MCA seats are given by UMNO.

  4. Yes, definitely it’s part of an agenda. Along the line of propaganda. Doesn’t matter what you say so long as you say it often enough. In the belief that doing so would get some people to believe you. Hideous.

    That’s why more Malays should come out and speak up. Try to disabuse their abusive propaganda. Join the Malay cyber troopers and be counted now. Support Perkasa and the 76 Malay NGOs. Attend the Melayu Bangkit Rally slated to take place at the end of the month.

    Who the hell says that there is a big shift of Malay votes to the Chinese or to the opposition? How many Malays actually support the DAP? The PAS supporters get free tickets, accomodation, meals and pocket money to visit Sibu donning on the rocket T shirts, so why say Malay votes have shifted to the Chinese? Ridiculous.

    Elections since PRU12 still carry the hangover of Malay disgust with Tun Dol over his flip-flopping, auto-piloting and sleepy administration. So many Malays have come out stating their regret for voting the opposition at PRU12. But the Chinese have been running away from the Barisan now. And the MCA and Gerakan are blaming Malay votes. Including this reporter who gets printed by Chinese owned newspapers.

    They won’t even admit the dismal performance of MCA in bringing votes to the BN. Only acknowledging the fracas among them in Kuala Kubu Bahru, for example, leaving their booths unattended to and the like. They cannot make any inroad into the DAP stronghold of Rasa. Talk about Malay votes going away. Nonsense!

  5. We can obviously see by the names of the speakers at the event that it is being monopolized by the PR leaders and supporters.

    This is obviously unfair. So where is the freedom of speech propogated by DAP? Their version of freedom of speech could be different from the majority.

    And the majority don’t have to believe the bull that we have to listen to the minority. The majority rules.


  6. This time I totally disagree with Joceline Tan views. I doubt the many Malays like me who voted against BN at the GE 12 will vote for PAS or Pakatan this time round; then we just wanted to teach KJ and his father in law. The present scenario is very different – we are aware that the Chinese have become over jealous about rights, their rights as internationalized human beings rather than Malaysians under the constitution.

    While the Chinese generally rally behind the DAP and use PAS to split the Malay votes, I am most certain the bulk of the Malays even the young voters will continue rally behind UMNO and BN. Not many Muslims or Malays can now accept the ridiculous present politics of PAS which will not bring any benefit and peace to the country. PKR is already a dead duck for sure. All the pretenses by PAS and DAP in displaying unity will never go well with their grass roots; the two radical parties just cannot jell in reality! But these radicals will try anything to be in power and destroy UMNO and BN.

    It’s critical for MCA to look at itself and redefine its direction and purpose. Putting up similar stance as the DAP will never work in the greater interest of MCA nor BN. It’s foolish for MCA to be seen rejecting the rights enshrined under the constitution be it on the NEP, social contract, Islam etc; the majority of the Malays will not have any pity for the precarious position of the MCA. It’s so foolish for the current MCA president to talk about the Chinese voters being interested in “intellectual” issues and not hand outs; only the arrogant rich talk like that. But if that’s the way the MCA want it, then let it be- let’s see the candidates they put in majority BN Bumi safe areas. Those who talk like LKS. LGE or Terasa Kote will feel the wrath of the bulk of the Malays – do not think we Malays and Bumiputras are not “intellectual” inclined. So Chua Soi Lek, leave Joceline Tan alone, I smell your dick lurking around her.

  7. Bro, why not view the article with a pinch of salt! Regard it as a challenge for Umno to prove wrong their detractors’ assertion that its unpopular. So what do we? Relax like you always do or work very hard to win over the Malays especially disgruntled Umno members etc. This way we’ll show the non-Malays we are dead serious in wanting their support if they are sincere in upholding the BN spirit and camaraderie. Its good that JT had raised the issue to warn Umno of the possibilities facing the party and the Malays in general. Lu jangan la sensitif sangat. Kena pikir panjang bro untuk masa depan anak bangsa 1Malaysia. Forget about the opposition. Just do your work!

    • Don’t you even feel the attempt to drive a wedge among the Malays, or to blame the Malays for the weaknesses of the Chinese in MCA? Did you not read the analyses on the performance of the Chinese in Rasa town and the Chinese in Kuala Kubu Bahru town during PRK Hulu Selangor?

      Do you hear yourself talking – “Relax … This way we’ll show the non-Malays we are dead serious in wanting their support ..” Have the habit of reading back what you write, man. You’ll be surprised at the ridiculousness of some of your statements. And you are encouraging them at what they are doing, discouraging the Malays like Big Dog trying to do what should be done.

      Saying “Its good that JT had raised the issue … Lu jangan la sensitif sangat.” You must be one of those Melayu sitting lulling the time away in idle chats at bus stops along one of the less developed areas along the old north-south road. Or a bukan Melayu masquerading as a Melayu.

      Wake up, man.

  8. […] yang dikuasai MCA The Star dewasa ini menunjukan kecenderungan menengahkan agenda Chauvinis Cina yang lebih kurang membayangkan sikap dan hala tuju Kepimpinan MCA. Baru baru ini juga Presiden MCA […]

  9. […] undi masyarakat Cina, maka dikhuatiri mereka akan mengunakan permintaan yang lebih sebagai ‘agenda tebusan politik’ secara […]

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