KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad articulated today a widely held sentiment in Umno — that going after the Chinese vote is risky and unproductive.
Instead, he appears to suggest in a posting on his blog today that Umno should first ensure that Malay interests are taken care of, especially in the face of what he called “attacks by the Chinese.”
“We hear a lot about demands by Chinese extremists questioning the provision of Malay special rights in the constitution, demanding an end to the NEP, [a] reduction of quotas for Malay students. They even say the Malays are also ‘kaum pendatang’ or immigrants. An article even claims that there is no such thing as a Malay race.
“Umno remained silent. In fact when an Umno member said that the Chinese and Indians are descendants of immigrants, he was suspended by Umno. It seems to many Malays that Umno is incapable of countering the attacks by Chinese extremists against Malays,” wrote Dr Mahathir.
His latest remarks are expected to put more pressure on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has been pushing his 1 Malaysia agenda to unite the country.
But while Najib has had mixed results in reaching out to Indian voters, the results of ten by-elections since Election 2008 showed Chinese voters have now become a solid vote bank for Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
Dr Mahathir warned today that Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) risked losing Malay support if they continued to introduce “Chinese-friendly” policies and abolishing affirmative-action measures under the New Economic Policy (NEP).
“The BN must remember that in the 2008 election it lost a lot of seats. Where it won the margins are very small. If a few hundred Malays decide not to vote BN, even the seats that it had won would be lost in the 13th General Election.
“Umno and the Government are facing a dilemma. In trying to win over the Chinese with allocations and abolishing New Economic Policy provisions, the BN will lose Malay support as indeed it did in 2008. On the other hand no matter how the Government try to satisfy Chinese demands, the Chinese have clearly rejected the BN,” said Dr Mahathir.
Dr Mahathir also justified the existence of Perkasa as a reaction by Malays to what he suggests were the increasingly strident demands of Chinese voters.
“Perhaps it is because Perkasa appears to be racist that the Chinese are against BN. But Perkasa is not BN. Also the Chinese parties in BN are facing a crisis.
“What is happening now is that Malays are forming Non-Governmental Organisations because of Chinese attacks against the Malays and Umno seems unable to defend them.
He said that groups like Perkasa feel that they have to rebut “racist” statements by the Chinese.
“And when they do they are labelled as racists.”