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Is UMNO now more concerned than MCA and Gerakan over the swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in the Ijok and Machap by-elections?


Media Statement        
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Thursday) : It would appear that UMNO is more concerned than MCA and Gerakan over the swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in the Ijok and Machap by-elections. 

MCA national leaders continue in their denial that there is any significant swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in Ijok and Machap by-elections, continuing to attribute the “little swing” of Chinese voters in Ijok to dissatisfaction with the former MIC State Assemblyman, the late Datuk K. Sivalingam. 

In contrast, the Umno-owned New Straits Times have come out with an editorial today, “Wooing back the Chinese” which said:  

“Based on the two recent by-elections in Machap and Ijok, the mood on the Chinese ground should be of concern to the Barisan Nasional. In Machap, a semi-rural area, MCA won in its traditional stronghold, but with a reduced majority. In Chinese polling districts, there was an estimated five per cent vote swing in favour of the opposition. In Ijok, the signal sent by the country’s second-largest ethnic group was more apparent.” 

The NST editorial added that the outcomes in Machap and Ijok “appear to accord with the Merdeka Centre’s research findings earlier this year, to the effect that two to three Chinese would vote for the opposition in the next polls”. 

The independent opinion research firm Merdeka Centre conducted a poll between October and December last year involving 1,025 respondents aged 16 and above  in an attempt to examine the voting trend in the next general election. 

According to its findings, two in three Chinese are likely to vote for the Opposition in the next general election while 32 and 33 per cent respectively of the Malays and Indians are likely to vote for the opposition. 

While continuing to deny that there was any significant swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition in Ijok, MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting continued to put the blame primarily on Sivalingam’s track record while acknowledging that a secondary factor was the unhappiness of the Chinese with “certain statements which had hurt their feelings”. 

But what Ka Ting failed to explain is why the these “hurtful” statements and actions were defended by top MCA leaders and Ministers during the Ijok and Machap by-elections? 

As a first step, is Ka Ting prepared to take action to ensure that all the top MCA and MCA Youth leaders who had publicly defended these “hurtful” statements and misconduct in the Ijok and Machap by-elections should retract their apologia and tender public apologies? 

One of the MCA Ministers who had defended these “hurtful” actions is the MCA National Vice President and Health Minister, Datuk Dr. Chua Soi Lek. 

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah has asked MCA and Gerakan to explain the reasons for the swing of Chinese voters to the Opposition.   

Are MCA and Gerakan leaders prepared to tell Abdullah that one powerful testimony of such unhappiness is a new exodus of the best and brightest non-Malay talents overseas, after one to two million Malayaian “brains” had emigrated to foreign lands in the past three decades as a result of the injustices and abuses of the New Economic Policy? 

Most important of all, are MCA and Gerakan leaders prepared to tell Abdullah and the Umno leadership that the swing of Chinese votes in Ijok and Machap to the Opposition is  not merely an expression of ethnic unhappiness and grievances but their sense of disaffection and alienation as Malaysian citizens at the failure of the Prime Minister to deliver his 2004 general election pledge to lead a clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent, efficient, democratic and people-oriented government at all times and not just during by-election or general election time. 

A month ago, the Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Khir Toyo told the Selangor Barisan Nasional Assembly members that the next general election will be held in March next year before Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becomes eligible to stand for elective office in April 2008. 

The Ijok by-election result would have changed the dynamics and timing for the next general election, as Umno has found that it cannot be so certain of support of the Malay voters – as illustrated by the fact that Abdullah had to make a last-ditch visit to Ijok by-election to salvage Barisan Nasional’s fortunes as the by-election at that  time was too close for call despite the pouring of some RM100 million goodies  by the Barisan Nasional by-election machinery. 

With the Ijok by-election result, the case is now stronger for Barisan Nasional to have an earlier general election than in March next year, which may fall in October.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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