By Johan James
Would it be appropriate to say that our economy would face a downward spiral should the Chinese “Balik Tongsan”! Yes it would! A fact is a fact and other races concede it always. Leaving the economy aside, what about their influence on the political front? Remember the bashing the Barisan Nasional took during the 2008 general election dubbed “the political tsunami”? BN lost its long-held two-thirds majority in parliament. Certain Umno leaders were blamed for their antics against the Chinese during that year’s Umno general assembly.
Realising the importance of Chinese voters, the BN has begun to tone down its hardline conservatism to slowly draw the Chinese people’s support. This is indeed a timely move by the BN, to face the upcoming 14th general election and wrest back the three opposition-held states. Even Prime Minister Najib Razak and his deputy have spared no opportunities to highlight the Chinese community’s contribution to the wellbeing of our economy.
The BN’s landslide victory in Sarawak’s 11th state election in May last year marked the return of Chinese voters to the BN’s fold. This was also shown in another major victory for the BN – in the twin by-elections held in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, last June. These elections were widely regarded by local political analysts as a litmus test for the 14th general election.
And I don’t need to say what will be the outcome of the by-election in Tanjung Datu, Sarawak, slated for Feb 18. If the BN’s candidate is lucky enough, he or she could win the by-election uncontested. Probably these past election results could have encouraged the BN to further expand its efforts to draw more Chinese support.
We don’t need a rocket scientist to discover that the culture of the Chinese community here is still largely similar to the one in China. The Chinese, no matter where they live, won’t easily compromise on their deep-rooted cultural aspects. So, what do you expect from them when their country of origin – now the second largest economy after the US – is opening up plenty of business opportunities through multibillion deals with Malaysia?
Malaysian Chinese can clearly see the opportunities arising from this. In fact, the government also needs the expertise of the local Chinese – not only to smoothen the dealings with China officials who prefer to converse in Mandarin, but also to gain their trust.
Despite the oppositions’ efforts to magnify scandals related to the government, especially 1MDB, local Chinese, by now, should have realised that China’s intervention to leverage the government of Malaysia could be a blessing in disguise. Furthermore, it is natural for Malaysian Chinese to have high regard for China.
Though critical of the government in social media, the Chinese community – especially business people – can be expected to give importance to earnings rather than political rhetoric.
Being a more result-oriented and pragmatic community, the Malaysian Chinese can be expected to be supportive of the government and eventually tap into the multibillion dealings between China and Malaysia.
Therefore, it won’t be surprising if the BN regains its two-thirds majority in GE14, with the strong support from the Chinese. And if it is lucky enough, the BN could win back at least one of the opposition-held states.
Happy Chinese New Year.
Johan James is an FMT reader.
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