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TJ MK BPost: Mahathir Memancing Kaum Cina
By S.H. Chong
23/5/2001 10:14 pm Wed
MAHATHIR MERAPATI KAUM CINA
Strategi baru 'mesra kaum Cina' Mahathir bertujuan untuk mengelakkan
mereka condong kepada parti komponen BA. Kebelakangan ini PAS dan keADILan
berjaya mendekatkan diri kepada kaum ini yang menjadi faktor penentu untuk
membentuk kerajaan nanti. Tiga isu penting - SRJKC, Sekolah Wawasan dan
Kuota Kaum di IPT berjaya dibela atau dibawa oleh pihak BA sehingga terkelu
tidak terkata MCA dan semakin merosot sokongan buat BN.
Mahathir sedang terjerut oleh tektik lamanya sendiri. Dia berjanji untuk
mengkaji rayuan Suqui sebelum pemilu sehingga BN menang besar kerana itu.
Tetapi dia kemudiannya membidas keras Suqui dengan melabelkannya sebagai
ekstrim (pengganas dan komunis) pada ucapan hari merdeka sedangkan Suqui
(makna bahasanya kurang lebih = begitu lembut) merupakan golongan sederhana
cendiakawan dan professional Cina yang diterima oleh hampir semua masyarakat
Serangan terhadap Suqui itu membawa padah dengan tertewasnya kubu kuat
BN di Lunas akibat 60% pengundi kaum Cina memprotes mainan jijik Mahathir
terhadap Suqui. Mahathir berharap strategi menyerang itu akan menterbalikkan
sokongan orang melayu buat dirinya malangnya ia menghempap sendiri kepalanya.
Isu perpaduan melayu nampaknya tidak kemana kerana lain dicakap lain pula
dibikinnya. Sikap PAS yang terlalu berhati-hati menyebabkan Mahathir semakin
resah bercampur gelisah jerat itu mungkin mengena Umno sendiri.
Majoriti orang melayu sudah marah dan tidak mempercayai Umno lagi kerana
mengaib dan menghukum Anwar 15 tahun lamanya berdasarkan fakta yang amat
dicuriga. Kaum Cina pula merasa tertipu, dibelot dan dibodohkan oleh Mahathir
dan BN dengan mudahnya. Akibatnya Lunas tertewas dengan amat malunya walaupun
dipancing dengan projek yang bernilai berjuta-juta. Itu sudah tidak mampu
membeli undi kaum Cina yang sudah sakit hati dengan karenah BN selama ini.
PAS dan KeADILan sudah berjaya merapati kaum Cina sekarang ini sebab itulah
Mahathir begitu risau sekali. Jika fenomena ini berterusan, BN akan kecundang
dalam pemilu akan datang nanti. Terpaksalah Mahathir menjilat ludahnya sendiri
jika tidak dia akan maut 'dibelasah' oleh pengundi. Soalnya apakah kaum Cina
mudah melupakan segala-galanya walaupun telah terhina sedemikian rupa?
-Ringkasan/Ulasan Man Kubur-
ANALYSIS / POLITICS IN MALAYSIA
Mahathir goes courting the ethnic Chinese vote
The man who runs Malaysia is in no immediate
danger of losing his seat, but he still finds it
prudent to shore up his position.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is a man of surprises. Just when you think
he's run out of tricks, he pulls out another rabbit from his hat.
Things aren't looking good for the long-serving prime minister. Support for his
party, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), is at an all-time low.
And to make matters worse, several miscalculations made in the past year
have alienated the ethnic Chinese community which normally supports the
According to recent press reports, Dr Mahathir is almost certain to appoint an
ethnic Chinese special assistant and an ethnic Chinese press secretary. This
is unprecedented. The long-serving premier already has three political
assistants and one press secretary, all of them Malay. The addition of the two
new positions is a clear indication that he is going all out to win back the
support of the ethnic Chinese, who make up roughly a quarter of the
"Mahathir wants to make sure the grievances of the Chinese community are
heard. I think an official announcement will be made soon," a government
official was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying. The official said the
premier had been considering the idea for some time to tackle two key issues,
both related to education, that have made this community unhappy.
First is the inability of top-performing ethnic Chinese students to secure
places in public universities. Second is a highly publicised closure of a
Chinese-language primary school near Kuala Lumpur.
Education has always been a sensitive issue for the ethnic Chinese. But in the
past year, the man considered by fans and foes alike to be the pre-eminent
master politician has made several major blunders.
Besides these two recent issues, another education-related debacle was his
Vision School concept, which essentially called for schoolchildren from
different ethnic groups to share common facilities to eat and play. Although the
children would be allowed to continue to study their mother tongue, the ethnic
Chinese community resisted this scheme on fears that it would eventually
erode their cultural identity.
Another issue which drew Dr Mahathir a lot of flak was his bizarre speech
during last year's national day celebrations when he equated an influential
Chinese group called Suqiu (an elections appeals committee) with communist
terrorists and a radical Islamic cult that had tried to stage an armed revolt.
Many ethnic Chinese were dumbstruck by the premier's angry speech
because Suqiu is seen as a moderate group made up of academics and
Among its appeals were calls to curb corruption, protect the environment,
protect women's rights, ensure freedom of the press and base affirmative
action on need rather than on ethnicity. (Malaysia gives preferential treatment
to Malays and indigenous natives, collectively known as bumiputras).
Dr Mahathir had despatched ethnic Chinese leaders from the government to
hear out Suqiu's appeals right before the 1999 general elections, which he
won on the back of overwhelming support by the ethnic Chinese community.
Post-election analysis showed that the Malays were split right down the
middle while the ethnic Chinese voted overwhelmingly for the government. To
everyone's surprise, less than a year later, Dr Mahathir lashed out at Suqiu.
Some political analysts suggest that the outburst was a misguided attempt to
win back support from the Malays. But, by lashing out at the Chinese, Dr
Mahathir gained support from no one. Many Malays are still angry over his
treatment of Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy prime minister who is currently
serving a 15-year jail sentence for corruption and s###my. The Chinese,
meanwhile, felt betrayed and insulted.
This sentiment manifested itself late last year in a hotly contested by-election
in Dr Mahathir's home state of Kedah. Again, the Malay vote was split. And
this time about 60% of the ethnic Chinese voted for the opposition, which
fielded a Malay candidate from Keadilan, the party set up by Anwar's wife.
Ever the pragmatist, Dr Mahathir is quickly attempting to rectify the situation.
Recently, there were calls by a popular Malay newspaper for the government
to not only defend the education quota but to actually increase it. An editorial
in the Berita Harian newspaper said that, according to the 2000 census,
bumiputras now comprise 66% of the population, up from a previous figure of
55%. Based on these statistics, the editorial called for the quota to be similarly
bumped up from 55% to 66%.
Dr Mahathir was quick to shoot down this idea. "If there are no qualified
Malays, it will be useless even if we have a 100% bumiputra quota," he told
reporters during the recent launch of Umno's 55th anniversary. "The Malays
never want to study in difficult fields. They only choose the easy ones."Dr
Mahathir added that Malays should look at their own capabilities first, and that
increasing the quota would only end up creating a country without learned
people. "If we want to follow our sentiments, we will destroy everything," he
The ethnic Chinese community is in a unique situation with both the
government and the opposition courting its support ahead of the 2004 general
Traditionally, the battle for the hearts and minds of this economically powerful
community was fought by the Malaysian Chinese Association (from the
government) and the Democratic Opposition party (or DAP, from the
opposition). Now, even Umno and the fundamentalist opposition
Pan-Malaysian Islamic party (PAS) have joined the fray.
Earlier this year, when Dr Mahathir invited the PAS to meet with Umno to
discuss the issue of Malay unity, the PAS declared that it would not enter into
talks unless they touched on national unity-as Malaysia is a multi-racial
country. The PAS has made huge strides in reaching out to the Chinese, said
Lim Kit Siang, chairman of the predominantly-Chinese DAP, which works with
the PAS in the opposition coalition.
This is a far cry from the PAS of the early 1980s, which labelled Umno
members infidels for co-operating with non-Muslims. Most observers,
however, believe that Dr Mahathir will prevail because many ethnic Chinese
are still incredibly wary of the PAS's fundamentalist credentials.
Political analysts say it is still not too late for Dr Mahathir to win back ethnic
Chinese support. "The Chinese are not emotional or overtly political people,"
said one analyst with a local political think tank. "They are practical people.
So, if he [Mahathir] plays his cards right and starts seriously addressing their
concerns on education and other issues, they will support him once again."