Dr M confident economy can move to high income

The Star online | PUTRAJAYA, 03-June-2009 : Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is confident the National Economic Advisory Council can help the Government turn Malaysia’s economy from middle to high income.

The former prime minister, who described the setting up of the council as a “wonderful idea,” said the aim to have a new economic model would be possible with the help and advice of experts in the body.

He was speaking to reporters at the “Nurturing the Minds of Future Leaders” essay contest at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here on Wednesday.

On April 9, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the setting up of the council, to be headed by a chairman with ministerial status, while its members would comprise local and foreign economic experts.

The council, headed by former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz, will advise the Government in creating a new economic model for Malaysia based on innovation, creativity and adding high value.

On the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research survey where 45% of 1,067 registered voters in peninsular Malaysia were satisfied with Najib’s performance in politics, the economy and social issues, Dr Mahathir said it was good and must be seen as an “indication” of his popularity as leader since he took office.

He said many things could be done to spur the economy but declined to comment when asked if the Government was doing enough.

Dr Mahathir also said that the Government should not relent to pressure by certain quarters in calling for the return of the 85-year-old former communist leader Chin Peng.

Najib yet to win back public – By Carolyn Hong, Malaysia Bureau Chief

Strait Times – Singapore | 02-June-2009 – But Malaysian PM’s efforts to remake govt seen to be gaining the backing of Indians

najib
The chaos overshadowed Mr Najib’s efforts to tackle longstanding grievances such as the pro-Malay economic policies and disputes over religious conversion. — PHOTO: AP

KUALA LUMPUR – PREMIER Najib Razak’s efforts to win back support have some way to go yet as only 45 per cent of Malaysians say they are satisfied with his performance, a survey by an independent pollster revealed yesterday.

His approval rating improved by only one percentage point from just before he became Prime Minister on April 3, despite his resolute attempts to remake the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration into a people-friendly government.

There was, however, a silver lining. The survey showed a dramatic increase in support from the Indian community, indicating that measures targeted at the community have had an impact.

There is also a growing optimism about the direction that Malaysia is taking, compared with a year ago.

The survey, conducted about 1-1/2 months after Datuk Seri Najib became Premier, is a quarterly one by the Merdeka Centre.

‘The rating was a bit lower than expected, but his first month was a mixed bag. There were many positive things, but people were also not happy with the Perak situation and related arrests,’ said its director Ibrahim Suffian.

He was referring to the political chaos that had embroiled Perak since the Pakatan Rakyat government was toppled through defections in February. The BN became the new government amid widespread dissatisfaction among Malaysians.

The chaos overshadowed Mr Najib’s efforts to tackle longstanding grievances such as the pro-Malay economic policies and disputes over religious conversion.

Since he became Premier, he has removed the bumiputera quotas for 27 sub-sectors of the service industry, banned forced conversion of children to Islam, and reached out to the aggrieved minority communities.

The release of five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders, and the ban on forced conversions which affected mostly Hindu families, appeared to have helped win back some support from the Indians.

Read the full story in The Straits Times on Tuesday.

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If it’s the economy can Pakatan match up with BN?

The Malaysian Insider | 02-June-2009 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) should be concerned.

No, not about the shabby turnout of voters in the Penanti by-election or the perverse logic by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that Barisan Nasional (BN) was the real victor in Sunday’s electoral contest.

Or the chest thumping editorials in the mainstream media on how BN had a significant impact on the by-election even without fielding a candidate.

The 46.1 per cent turnout was the result of a one-sided contest.

Teams play in sparsely populated stadia when the outcome of a competition has been settled. So it was expected that many voters would not get out of their night clothes on a lazy Sunday once it became clear that PKR’s Mansor Othman was running against himself.

Muhyiddin’s bombast is akin to Tyson Gay sitting out the 100 metre dash and then rejoicing because Usain Bolt did not shatter the world record.

It is just another logic busting statement by a ruling coalition politician.

And about the boast in the mainstream media, while it is true that no one stood on the BN ticket in Penanti, judging by the space given to her accusations of bribery in the newspapers, no one could be faulted for reaching the conclusion that Aminah Abdullah was a proxy BN candidate.

She was trounced, losing her deposit and self respect among voters who viewed her as nothing more than a plant by the ruling coalition.

Even if the turnout had been 80 per cent, she would have ended up donating her deposit to the Election Commission.

So disregard all the sour grape comments by the BN.

Penanti has come and gone and Pakatan Rakyat is celebrating another by-election victory, the fifth since Election 2008.

But Pakatan Rakyat should be concerned — by the green shoots of confidence a growing number of Malaysians have in the direction of the economy and the Najib administration’s handling of the economy.

The headline figure in a survey by the Merdeka Center, an independent polling house, showed that only 45 per cent of Malaysians were satisfied with his performance as the prime minister.

Nearly 40 per cent did not want to answer the question, perhaps out of fear or due to the short period he has been in power.

Quite clearly, Najib is not benefitting from the bounce which usually accompanies a new leader into office.

Much of this is down to the baggage he lugged into office, some down to the residue of anger and cynicism among Malaysians after years of broken promises of the Abdullah administration.

Still, Opposition leaders would do well to look beyond the headline statistic and examine other parts of the survey closely.

Especially the parts that show that the economy is the main concern of Malaysians and in that sphere there is growing support for the administration.

In March, 35 per cent of the Malaysians felt that the country was in the right direction and 36 per cent were satisfied with the state of the nation.

The recent survey of 1.076 Malaysians shows that these figures have improved to 42 per cent and 51 per cent respectively.

The confidence in the Malaysian economy has inched up from 24 per cent in March to 39 per cent in May while 47 per cent per cent of those polled expressed optimism that the economy will be in a better state a year from now, compared with 31 per cent in a similar poll done in March.

The point is that if the Najib administration’s handling of the economic downturn inspires more confidence on the ground, more fence-sitters (those voters who are not strongly affiliated to any political party) may be willing to give Umno/BN a wider berth.

This swing could have an impact on voting trends in future.

Economy and security still main concern of Malaysians – By Debra Chong

The Malaysian Insider | KUALA LUMPUR, 01-June-2009 – Bread and butter plus security issues are at the top of Malaysian minds, the first public opinion poll conducted since Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over as prime minister two months ago revealed.

Independent pollster Merdeka Centre carried out a survey last month to track the public’s views on current issues and national leadership. One thousand and sixty-seven randomly selected registered voters aged 21 and above were interviewed at the height of the Perak political disputes in court and the start of the deadly H1N1 flu outbreak.

Three out of 10 Peninsular Malaysians polled said they were most worried about the way the economy is headed, citing, among others, “unfavourable economic conditions in general”, the climbing prices of goods and the fear of not landing a job.

Their second biggest worry is the growing incidence of social problems among youngsters ranging from the increasingly volatile road bully culture of “Mat Rempits” and moral decline to drug abuse.

This is followed closely by concern over crime and their personal safety while in public areas, brought on by the increased presence of foreign workers.

Interestingly, close to a quarter of those polled expressed optimism that the general economy is getting better with Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, at the helm.

Almost half the people questioned are confident the economy will be on the upswing in one year’s time.

 

Najib’s approval ratings up (Updated) – By Zedeck Siew

 najibThe Nut Graph | PETALING JAYA, 1 June 2009: Forty-five percent of voters from peninsular Malaysia are satisfied with the performance of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, according to a recent survey by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research.

The survey, the first to be conducted since Najib came into power in early April, found that support for Najib came from the Malay Malaysian and Indian Malaysian communities, with 53% and 64% expressing satisfaction respectively. Only 24% of Chinese Malaysian respondents said they were satisfied.

The survey also saw 39% of all individuals polled declining to respond to queries about Najib’s performance as premier.

The approval rating is a 1% rise from the ratings a week before Najib’s appointment on 3 April 2009 as Malaysia’s sixth prime minister. Then, 44% of peninsular Malaysians strongly agreed that Najib would make a good prime minister.

To the question about the most important issue Najib had to address, 35% of respondents in the current poll cited economic concerns. Issues of race relations came in second place, preoccupying 12% of respondents.

The peninsular Malaysia voter opinion poll was carried out between 6 and 15 May 2009. It was conducted as the Perak state assembly controversy and the Influenza A(H1N1) outbreak were unfolding.

A total of 1,067 registered voters from peninsular Malaysia were interviewed by telephone. The sample comprised of 56% Malay Malaysians, 34% Chinese Malaysians, and 10% Indian Malaysians.

The survey found that the opinions of peninsular Malaysians were split when it came to whether Malaysia today was heading in the right direction, with 42% responding in the positive. An almost equal number of respondents (41%) believed that Malaysia was heading in the “wrong direction”, while 16% said they didn’t know.

This question was also divided by ethnicity, with 57% of Malay Malaysians answering in the positive, compared to only 43% among Indian Malaysians and 16% among Chinese Malaysians.

“What in your view is the most important issue the prime minister needs to address?”
Breakdown of responses by 1,067 voters:
Address economic issues 23%
Don’t know 12%
Fair treatment to all races 7%
Give assistance to the poor and rural areas/poverty 7%
Solve social problems 6%
Unite all races/strengthen ethnic relations 5%
Reduce prices 5%
Fight corruption 5%
Solve crime and public safety 5%
Stabilise political situation in the country 5%
None 5%
Solve conflicts in Perak 3%
Others 3%
Uphold Islam and special Malay privileges 2%
Revamp certain policies (PPSMI, ISA, education, etc.) 2%
Revamp BN/Umno/administration 2%
No response 2%
Clear allegations against him/regain the trust of the people 1%
No confidence in Najib in solving any problems at all 1%

 

Most respondents thought that economic issues were paramount in Malaysia today (31%), with social issues (12%) and crime and public safety issues (11%) coming in second.

Worries about political infighting have subsided, with only 9% of respondents citing political issues as the most important problem that needed solving.

 

Masa perkukuh UMNO, BN – Oleh Marzuki Mohamad

Utusan Malaysia | 21-Oct-2008, : Selain memilih pemimpin di peringkat bahagian, mesyuarat bahagian UMNO yang sedang berlangsung pada Oktober dan November ini penting kerana para perwakilan akan turut menamakan calon-calon bagi jawatan tertinggi parti dalam pemilihan pada Mac tahun depan. Lebih penting lagi, barisan kepimpinan tertinggi UMNO yang bakal dipilih akan turut membarisi kepimpinan tertinggi negara ekoran pengumuman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi untuk tidak mempertahankan jawatan Presiden.

Tidak hairanlah, pertandingan bagi jawatan-jawatan utama parti menjadi tumpuan. Jawatan Presiden dan Timbalan Presiden, yang mana penjawatnya secara tradisi dilantik sebagai Perdana Menteri dan Timbalan Perdana Menteri, merupakan antara kerusi paling diperhatikan.

Sekiranya berlaku pertandingan bagi kedua-dua jawatan ini, pemilihan kali ini merupakan yang pertama sejak 1987 yang menyaksikan pertandingan bagi kedua-dua jawatan tertinggi tersebut.

Jika pemilihan 1987 menyaksikan UMNO diharamkan dan ahli-ahli parti berpecah dua, pemilihan kali ini seharusnya menjadi medan terbaik bagi ahli-ahli UMNO untuk memperkukuhkan semula UMNO dan Barisan Nasional yang buat pertama kali dalam sejarah pilihan raya sejak 1969 kehilangan majoriti dua pertiga di Parlimen.

Barisan kepimpinan UMNO yang bakal dipilih mempunyai tanggungjawab yang besar untuk mengepalai usaha mengembalikan semula keyakinan rakyat pelbagai kaum di negara ini terhadap UMNO dan BN.

Untuk itu, sewajarnyalah para pemimpin dan perwakilan UMNO melakukan semakan realiti tentang persepsi dan harapan rakyat terhadap UMNO dan BN.

Satu kajian pasca pilihan raya yang dilakukan oleh Merdeka Center for Opinion Research dalam bulan Julai lalu menunjukkan majoriti rakyat masih meyakini BN sebagai platform terbaik untuk memupuk kerjasama antara kaum (55 peratus), mengekalkan kestabilan politik (67 peratus) dan membawa kemakmuran ekonomi (54 peratus). Kira-kira 55 peratus responden juga merasakan BN mewakili suara semua kaum dan 51 peratus berpandangan amalan dalam BN adalah demokratik.

Namun demikian, wujud dikotomi persepsi antara masyarakat Melayu dan bukan Melayu. Hampir dua pertiga responden Melayu mempunyai pandangan positif terhadap BN, manakala majoriti responden bukan Melayu pula berpandangan sebaliknya.

Menguntungkan

Pandangan negatif responden bukan Melayu, sebahagian besarnya disebabkan oleh persepsi mereka bahawa dasar-dasar BN seperti Dasar Ekonomi Baru (DEB) hanya menguntungkan orang Melayu. Dalam hubungan ini, kajian tersebut mendapati 71 peratus responden bukan Melayu merasakan bahawa mereka didiskriminasi oleh kerajaan.

Sementara itu, 67 peratus responden Melayu pula merasakan bahawa DEB merupakan lambang hak keistimewaan Melayu yang perlu dikekalkan.

Kewujudan dikotomi ini bukanlah sesuatu yang baru. Dalam sebuah masyarakat berbilang kaum seperti Malaysia, cabaran utama para pemimpin negara ialah untuk mengimbangi kepentingan kaum yang berbeza. Peranan ini telah dimainkan oleh BN dan Perikatan sebelumnya. Sepanjang 53 tahun memerintah (termasuk dua tahun sebelum merdeka), formula Perikatan/BN telah berjaya mengekalkan kestabilan politik dan perpaduan kaum.

Selain tragedi 13 Mei, perbalahan kaum dan agama bukanlah suatu yang lumrah di Malaysia.

Ini berbeza dengan hubungan kaum di negara-negara rantau Asia Pasifik lain yang mempunyai demografi dan sejarah kolonial yang hampir sama dengan Malaysia. Di Sri Lanka dan Fiji perbalahan kaum telah menyebabkan pertumpahan darah, rampasan kuasa dan ketidakstabilan politik yang berlarutan. Di negara jiran Indonesia, perbalahan agama dan etnik memuncak ketika negara itu sedang bergelut dengan krisis ekonomi dan politik pasca pemerintahan rejim Orde Baru.

Walaupun BN mempunyai rekod yang baik dalam mengekalkan kestabilan politik dan perpaduan kaum, punca kemerosotan pengaruh BN dalam pilihan raya umum Mac lalu, terutamanya di kalangan pengundi bukan Melayu perlu diteliti.

Mungkin peningkatan taraf hidup rakyat, kemajuan dalam bidang pendidikan dan revolusi teknologi maklumat telah mempengaruhi nilai-nilai politik masyarakat.

Sementara majoriti rakyat memperakui kejayaan BN dalam mengekalkan kestabilan politik dan keharmonian kaum, mereka juga semakin menitikberatkan soal tadbir urus negara, penyampaian awam dan kesaksamaan. Rakyat mahukan pemimpin yang boleh diterima oleh semua kaum, cekap mengurus ekonomi dan telus dalam mentadbir negara.

Dalam konteks inilah para perwakilan UMNO yang bersidang pada bulan Oktober dan November ini perlu menilai ciri-ciri kepimpinan yang ada pada setiap individu yang ingin dicalonkan bagi jawatan-jawatan penting dalam parti.

Mereka perlu mempunyai ciri-ciri yang menepati aspirasi orang Melayu serta rakyat pelbagai kaum di negara ini. Perlu diingat bahawa formula pemilihan pada kali ini seharusnya tidak sama dengan pemilihan-pemilihan yang lalu. Asas perkiraan bukan semata-mata percaturan untung rugi politik dalaman UMNO, tetapi survival UMNO dan Barisan Nasional sebagai parti yang memerintah.

Hal ini telah pun diakui oleh pemimpin-pemimpin UMNO. Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi menyarankan agar diwujudkan keahlian langsung BN untuk menarik minat rakyat pelbagai kaum menyertai BN. Datuk Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak berulang kali mengingatkan ahli-ahli UMNO agar berusaha untuk memperkukuhkan BN sebagi parti yang mendapat dokongan rakyat pelbagai kaum.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pula menegaskan bahawa UMNO mesti memiliki pemimpin yang dihormati dan boleh diterima oleh kaum-kaum lain. Bagi Muhyiddin, tidak ada maknanya pemimpin UMNO mendapat sokongan padu ahli-ahli, tetapi parti itu kalah dalam pilihan raya.

Sokongan mereka yang berada di luar UMNO juga penting untuk memastikan kemenenangan parti. ADUN Pangkor, Datuk Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir dan Ahli Parlimen Batu Pahat, Dr. Mohd. Puad Zarkashi juga menyebut hal yang sama ketika mengumumkan hasrat untuk bertanding jawatan ahli Majlis Tertinggi.

Sebagai parti Melayu, UMNO terus mendapat kepercayaan orang Melayu. Dalam kajian sama yang dilakukan oleh Merdeka Center, 70 peratus responden Melayu mengakui bahawa UMNO telah berjaya melindungi kepentingan Melayu, memartabatkan Islam (67 peratus) dan membawa pembangunan ekonomi kepada rakyat (72 peratus). Perjuangan Melayu/Islam akan terus sinonim dengan UMNO.

Sebagai parti teras BN pula, tugas penting UMNO sebelum pilihan raya umum ke-13 adalah untuk memimpin usaha mengembalikan semula sokongan padu rakyat pelbagai kaum kepada BN. Bagi para perwakilan UMNO ke mesyuarat bahagian, tugas ini sudah pun bermula.

OPINION: Dump superiority and hear the masses out – By : ZUBAIDAH ABU BAKAR

NST Online | 17-Oct-2008: Without competent crisis management, Umno risks losing the struggle to save itself from slipping into political oblivion, observes ZUBAIDAH ABU BAKAR

(From left) Che Johan Che Pa says Umno cannot afford to detach itself from the people; and Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir says Umno needs to consider change seriously

THE “R” words — revamp, reform, reinvent, re-engineer, revive, rebrand and revitalise — were never so prominent in Umno’s vocabulary as they have been since the party’s poor performance in the March elections, as party members attempt to restore Umno’s injured pride.

But what are Umno’s actual plans for executing change?

Party leaders talked about a recovery plan months ago, but nothing of the sort has yet been seen. It appears the party still lacks a clear idea of the kind of change it seeks.

The special committee on rebranding chaired by former Terengganu menteri besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh should by now have some ideas, having been in action for the past three months.
According to Che Johan Che Pa, a grassroots leader from Pasir Mas, changes have to begin from the top. The push is now coming from the grassroots, he says; to effect any form of change to suit internal and external needs, the lead should be from the top.

“Umno has to be where the people are,” says Che Johan. “The party cannot detach itself from the people. It cannot continue to offer the same things for more than 50 years.”

Lumut division chief and Pangkor assemblyman Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir shares this sentiment. “For sure, Umno cannot be playing the same tune,” he says. “Umno must sit down; must have its own thinking group to look into this whole concept of change seriously.”

The grassroots are effecting changes at the ongoing divisional elections, though; delegates no longer want to be yes-men and rubber stamps for decisions made by division committees. They are offering alternative nominees for senior party posts and insisting on secret ballots or show of hands in selecting their nominees.

This was reflected at the Machang division meeting when there was a nomination from the floor for Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah after the division secretary proposed Datuk Seri Najib Razak for the Umno presidency.

There is a similar trend in other divisions as well as in the party’s Youth, Wanita and Puteri wings.

“Reform and change have been started in Umno by the grassroots as translated by the choice of leadership at the highest level,” says Zambry.

“Other than this, Umno has yet to establish what kind of change it really wants, what is it that it wants to reinvent.”

The acceptance of personalities who in the past would have fallen foul of the party, such as vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, is another change being pushed forward.

Muhyiddin has been very vocal against outgoing party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership, and now he leads the nominations for the deputy presidency, paving the way for his appointment as deputy prime minister when the power transition from Abdullah to Najib takes effect next year.

The grassroots are hopeful that Umno’s new team of leaders will listen to them and make the necessary changes, structural and in policy, in accordance with the dominant views of Malaysians.

The debate continues on whether more young people should be on the supreme council, the highest decision-making body in Umno, where hierarchy, seniority and age have long ruled.

Many would share the view of vice-presidential aspirants Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, that Umno needs a good mix of young and old leaders to remain resilient.

Forty-two-year-old Pulai member of parliament Nur Jazlan Mohamed, whose chances to be No 2 in Umno analysts have described as “thin as paper”, says Umno is in danger of losing power if it fails to regenerate and move with the times as young Malay voters have spurned it in favour of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

“Umno must realise it is at a crossroads, it’s a matter of life and death,” he was quoted saying in an interview with Reuters. “I don’t think it will have the resilience to recover if we were to lose power.”

To regain lost ground is no easy matter, and has to be handled cautiously. Any change has to take into consideration the demands of the masses as well as the emergence of a more appealing opposition led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Yes, Umno’s support among the Malays has waned, but all is not yet lost. Surveys indicate that Malay support for Umno remains around 50 per cent.

“If we exclude Kelantan, Umno still enjoyed the support of 65 per cent of the Malays in the last general election,” notes Ibrahim Suffian, head of Merdeka Centre, an opinion poll centre that conducted several post-election surveys.

These findings also suggest that over-emphasising Malay issues had cost Umno the support of non-Malays.

“All these and other negative perceptions can be rectified within the BN framework,” says Ibrahim.

Conservative Umno members must accept that Malays no longer see Umno as the one and only protector of Malay interests; the debacle of Umno is not the debacle of the Malays.

Another Merdeka Centre survey concluded that while most Malays want their special privileges to continue, significant numbers have no qualms about treating other communities equally.

The survey found that 58 per cent of Malays say they should be accorded special rights and privileges as the country’s original society, while 40 per cent say people should be accorded the same rights in Malaysia regardless of race or religion.

Umno leaders should, therefore, look at reality before making racist remarks. In a nutshell, Umno can no longer afford missteps. There is much to be learned from past mistakes such as being fixated on Malay interests; an attitude that lost the elections for Umno’s allies.

The new leaders have to be willing to champion new approaches or any change the party undertakes will be an exercise in futility: Umno may change in form but not in substance. Projecting a new image of openness and flexibility towards multiracialism is the way to strengthen its hold on federal power.

The Malaysian zero sum game – By Leslie Lau Consultant Editor

The Malaysian Insider | 16-Oct-2008 — The government’s hostility towards the Hindu Rights Action Front (Hindraf), culminating in the outlawing of the organisation, and Utusan Malaysia’s war with Teresa Kok has hardened the position of the nationalist Malay right behind Umno.

But it will have done Umno and the Barisan Nasional few favours in winning back the hearts and minds of Malay moderates or the support of the Chinese, Indian and other non-Malay communities.

By targeting Kok, Utusan and the nationalist Malays are hoping to rally the community against the “threat” of the Chinese DAP, as represented by the Seputeh MP.

Cheras Umno division head Datuk Wira Syed Ali Alhabshi has even set up a Tabung Azan to aid Utusan against the RM30 million defamation lawsuit filed against the paper by Kok.

His reasoning was that a lawsuit against Utusan was an act of hostility against all Malays and all Muslims.

Even Malaysian Press Institute chief executive officer Chamil Wariya made a thinly-veiled attempt at attacking Kok by writing a short story published last week in Utusan in which the protagonist, described as an anti-Malay female MP, is assassinated.

The jury is still out on whether such tactics by the more extreme forces of Umno will work in regaining Malay support lost to the opposition in the March general election.

But it is not likely to help the BN get back any of the non-Malay votes it lost.

The outlawing of Hindraf will certainly do no favours for the BN in engaging the disillusioned and disenfranchised of the Indian community.

By labelling the Hindraf as terrorist and extremist, the government hopes to galvanise the support of moderate, law-abiding conservative Malaysians.

But it runs the risk of allowing the Indian issue to fester, of hardening the stance of more extreme forces and turning a loosely-organised front into a legendary, mythical group united against the BN.

Already, a perception audit survey conducted by the independent Merdeka Centre a few months ago, before the Datuk Ahmad Ismail incident or the Hindraf Hari Raya episode, suggested that non-Malay support for the BN remained low.

Alarmingly, some of the findings also showed Malaysians remained highly suspicious of each other.

Some 37 per cent of non-Malays and non-Muslim Bumiputeras polled said they agreed that “the ultimate goal of Malay politicians is to restrict non-Malay cultures and religions”.

A total of 40 per cent of Malays and Muslim Bumiputeras polled believed, on the other hand, that “the Chinese and Indians are quietly planning to take over the country”.

Ultimately, the government’s hardline position against Hindraf and Utusan Malaysia’s war against Kok will appeal to such suspicions Malaysians have for each other.

The continuing suspicions we harbour against each other become justification for a curb on the discussion of “sensitive issues”.

But will curbing such discussions help repair race relations? Will it unite the races behind the BN?

Or will race relations in Malaysia forever be a zero sum game? – The Malaysian Insider

Merdeka Center