SUNGAI PETANI, 6 April 2009: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the role of the minority groups is important in every election in the country.
He said these groups usually determined the winner in an election even though the total votes could be small.
“In an election, usually the contest is between the government and the opposition. The supporters for both sides are almost evenly matched, but it is the minority who decides the winner or loser,” he said when addressing a gathering, An Afternoon With Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed-Statesman, at the Dewan Institut Kemahiran Mara (IKM), here.
He said administering the country was like crossing a very narrow bridge because the government had to accommodate the wishes of every ethnic group without leaving anyone behind.
“It’s as though the government is crossing a very narrow bridge, a misstep would mean falling into the sea. That’s the way administration is carried out in Malaysia. If one community complains of not getting something, it is because consideration is given to the other communities, so some others have to sacrifice,” he said.
Also present at the gathering were Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Wanita Umno head Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, Kedah Umno Liaison chief Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Perlis Umno Liaison chief Datuk Seri Shahidan Kasim, Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the by-election for the Bukit Selambau state seat Datuk S Ganesan and several other BN leaders.
Despite the rain, more than 5,000 people stayed to listen to Mahathir’s speech on the Bukit Selambau by-election.
His arrival at the venue at about 4.50 pm was greeted by BN leaders from all the component parties.
Earlier, the former prime minister had joined the BN election machinery in the campaign for the Bukit Gantang Parliamentary by-election.
Mahathir yesterday submitted his Umno membership application after having left the party last year.
Mahathir said the Indian Malaysian community represented a small group in the country and there was no election constituency with an Indian Malaysian majority.
“They should not have a representative in the Malaysian government, but the Chinese [Malaysians] and Malay [Malaysians] are willing to cooperate and sacrifice so that the Indian [Malaysian] community can also have a place in our country,” he said.
He said the sacrifice was necessary so that harmony and prosperity for all races were maintained.
“In an election, victory is not necessarily determined by thousands of votes, one vote is enough to win the election. When the Indian [Malaysian] community does not have a place because of their small number, we are prepared to field Indian [Malaysian] candidates while the Chinese [Malaysians] and Malay [Malaysians] are willing to give their support to them.
“Likewise, when another community is contesting, the Indian [Malaysian] voters decide the winner. Although the community is a minority, they play a significant role, that’s why we are prepared to sacrifice a little to give a place to the Indian [Malaysian] community,” he said.
On the Bukit Selambau by-election tomorrow, Mahathir said he had full confidence in Ganesan to look after the welfare of all races here.
“Today, he (Ganesan) shook hands with me, after winning, he shakes hands with everyone. Don’t forget that we become an elected representative because of the votes that you give,” he told the gathering.
He called on the BN elected representatives to emulate Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who made surprise visits at Jalan Petaling, Brickfields and Kerinchi in Kuala Lumpur to look at the problems in these areas.
He expressed his willingness to give advice to anyone without becoming official advisor. — Bernama