Updated 14 April 2009 at 4.05pm
PUTRAJAYA, 14 April 2009: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the MCA leadership has no problems with the recent comment he made about Chinese Malaysian voters not being appreciative.
“I talked to (MCA president Datuk Seri) Ong Tee Keat, and he said there was nothing wrong with my statement,” Muhyiddin told reporters today after he assumed his duties as the education minister at the ministry.
Muhyiddin was referring to remarks he made in an interview with Utusan Malaysia on 12 April in which he said “the drop in Chinese support is like as if there is no appreciation towards what we (the BN) are doing.”
He said it was important to read the whole interview to understand the context of what he said in the Malay daily.
“I was only analysing the situation in Bukit Gantang where despite the help we gave, the results showed a decline in votes compared to 2008. That is why I said, ‘It is as if’ they are unappreciative.
“We have to understand why Chinese [Malaysians] think like that and why the Malay [Malaysian] thinking is not like that; that despite giving aid, it doesn’t affect their (the Chinese Malaysian voters’) decision,” he said.
Yesterday, MCA information and communication bureau head Lee Wei Kiat took Muhyiddin to task for his comments.
Lee said MCA “took exception” to the remark, adding that there were larger issues that explained why Chinese Malaysians in Bukit Gantang voted for the PAS candidate.
To a question, he denied that the lack of non-Malay Malaysian support for BN in both by-elections was indicative of national sentiment.
“That is yet to be seen. We’ve not made an overall assessment of the situation. It is only the case in Perak, and maybe in Bukit Selambau.
“When we do the post-mortem we have to be frank with ourselves. We must ask why did the Chinese [Malaysians] not support us, and try to find the reasons,” he said.
The deputy prime minister, who is also education minister, said he was misquoted by certain Chinese-language newspapers.
He added that it was a “serious” matter if the intention was to put him in a bad light in the eyes of Chinese Malaysians.
“I don’t read Chinese, but I got people who reported to me that they twisted what I said. If you don’t understand Bahasa [Malaysia], we can send you to school where they teach Bahasa. My Bahasa is very clear and very straight. You read the whole context of what I said…don’t twist it as if I said that we don’t appreciate the Chinese.”
Apologise, says DAP
DAP Youth chief Anthony Loke Siew Fook, however, wants Muhyiddin to apologise for his remarks which the party described as “distasteful and divisive”.
“Such an insensitive statement, coming from the number two leader in the country just barely a week after he took office, shows how out of touch the BN leadership is with constituents on the ground, and their failure to understand the sentiments and aspirations of the Malaysian electorate,” said Loke, who is also the Rasah Member of Parliament.
Loke’s statement, issued today, said Umno should instead be grateful to Chinese Malaysians for “prolonging the party’s survival in the 1999 general election”.
“It was the Chinese [Malaysian] voters who saved Umno and prolonged its political survival in 1999 where the majority of the Malay [Malaysian] electorate deserted Umno during the height of the reformasi movement.
“In fact, Muhyiddin’s boss, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak escaped a humiliating defeat by a mere 241-vote majority in his Pekan constituency thanks to Chinese [Malaysian] votes,” said Loke.
Loke added that the BN should stop their “old way of beggar politics” where votes were expected in exchange for allocations to schools or temples during election season.
He also said Umno leaders had a “feudalistic mentality” that expected all people to be duty-bound to elect them.