By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 — The results of Election 2013 reflects the divide between the urban and rural areas rather than a racial separation, Umno’s Tan Sri Shahrir Samad told the Chinese media this past week.
The Johor Baru MP’s comment is a rare contradiction within the party, just days after former Umno minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah also disagreed with the party’s prevailing notion that there was a “Chinese tsunami” in last Sunday’s polls.
“Umno won 88 federal seats in this time’s general election, most of it came from rural constituencies in states such as Sabah, Kedah, Kelatan. From the above results, instead of saying that there was a shift in Chinese voters’ support, it should actually be analysed from the differences in area, from the urban-rural divide,” Shahrir said in an interview with Chinese papers that was carried by the Sin Chew Daily today.
Shahrir also said the desires of the Chinese community are the same as voters from other ethnic groups, when saying that the election had boiled down to a vote between the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat.
“There are people asking what do the Chinese want, what the Chinese want is same as what any voters want — a government with good governance and performance.
“Many Chinese voted in support of PAS candidates, doesn’t mean that they support PAS in implementing the hudud laws, but it’s because they support Pakatan Rakyat, because the elections this time is more of choice between BN and PR,” the re-elected Johor Baru MP said.
Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak had used the term “Chinese tsunami” after the polls results showed that the BN retained power but had its worst showing in a general election, winning only 133 federal seats after it ceded an additional seven seats to PR.
Umno-linked Utusan Malaysia had then front-paged on Tuesday an incendiary headline titled “Apa lagi Cina mahu?” (What more do the Chinese want?) in what appeared to be an attempt to shape the elections outcome as a Malay versus Chinese vote.
Saifuddin had said the headline was “uncalled for”, pointing out that Najib had spoken about “national reconciliation” in his victory speech.
Shahrir also spoke on the BN chairman’s proposal to have a “national reconciliation”, saying the focus should be on the urban-rural divide.
“When you talk about reconciliation, is the reconciliation to be between communities, ethnic groups, urban-rural, or between east and west Malaysia? How should it be carried out?”
“I think what should be done is not racial reconciliation, but should be on the urban-rural problem, especially with the middle-income group in urban areas continuing to increase, although currently the low-income group is well taken care of, the middle-income group does not (receive the same), possibly causing the middle-income group to be unhappy,” the former minister was quoted as saying by Sin Chew.