Dr M regrets fall in Chinese support for BN

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 — Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed claimed today that race politics played a major part in the Hulu Selangor by-election, as Barisan Nasional was denied a majority win due to the lack of Chinese support.
He told reporters at a forum here on Malaysia-China relations any notion that politics would be less race-based after the 2008 general elections was a misconceived one, as purportedly seen with the fall in Chinese backing for BN despite attempts made to improve the living conditions of the Chinese community in Hulu Selangor.
“I see Datuk Seri Najib is bending backwards to appease the Chinese, in the process of course he has antagonised quite a lot of Malays.”
“So in this country although people say with results of 2008 election this country is going to be less race based politics, but race politics is now much stronger than before,” said Dr Mahathir.
The former prime minister also conceded that what he called the smear tactics of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) labelling him and BN as “racist” had some effect on BN being denied a bigger win yesterday.
“I think this campaign, saying we (BN) are racist, I am racist has got some effect.”
“I’m not being racist except that everybody knows that the Chinese doesn’t seem to support (BN), although the Malay support and the Indian support have increased which gave the victory to BN.”
“But of course this is politics. They are free to say what they want.”
Dr Mahathir said that the government should conduct a thorough post-mortem to analyse the “root problem” that led to a BN win, “but not by a majority.”
In the Hulu Selangor by-election, BN’s P. Kamalanathan won 24,997 votes to defeat PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who got 23,272 votes.
There were 731 spoilt votes, from the total of 48,935 votes cast.
Voter turnout was 75.87 per cent. Both coalitions improved on their performance but BN took in 2,000 more votes this time, against Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 200 extra votes.
When asked to comment on PR’s claims of vote-buying by BN as the main reason for winning the by-election, Mahathir stated that the government had promised development to the area if BN won, and there was nothing wrong with that.
“I don’t know whether you can call it vote-buying, but as government we promise that if we win, we will bring development.”
Also present was Deputy Minister of Internationl Trade and Industry Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir who shared Mahathir’s views.
Mukhriz slammed PR for its inability to accept defeat gracefully.
“Everytime there’s an election it’s the same form of allegations by Pakatan.
“They are sore losers, they cannot accept defeat. Instead, they can only resort to pointing fingers at us, pointing out our supposed flaws, but they themselves cannot promise anything concrete (in return),” said Mukhriz.
The deputy minister pointed out that race-based parties and politics will still be around for some time as long as social issues are not addressed and tackled effectively.
“I think it’s not too easy to dismantle race-based politics as long as social issues such as education, economy are still tied to ethnic backgrounds.
“If there is no need for people to have certain parties representing their own ethnicities, then there would not be a need for race-based parties.
“At the moment I don’t see that happening yet, but I guess it’s a work in progress,” Mukhriz added.
BN was only able to garner 28 per cent of the Chinese vote in Hulu Selangor yesterday, down from 37 per cent in GE 2008.