AYER HITAM – Umno members are reminded not to forget the 1999 general election when Malay voters turned away from Barisan Nasional due to the controversies caused by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, said Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
“When the Malays turned away from us and felt that they had enough of Tun M’s ways, it was the 20% of Chinese votes that helped Barisan win in that general election,” said the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister and Umno supreme council member.
Malay voters lost faith in the party because of Dr Mahathir’s various actions including the mata lebam (black eye) incident, he added.
Ahmad Shabery was referring to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s black eye, which the former deputy prime minister apparently got after an alleged beating from then inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor while in police custody in 1998.
When opening the Ayer Hitam Umno division meeting here yesterday, Ahmad Shabery said there should not be cases where Malay voters refuse to support candidates from other Barisan component parties.
“Do not forget there was a time when they (Chinese voters) were the ones who delivered. This should be the time for us to return the favour,” he said, adding that every seat was important in strengthening Barisan.
Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong meanwhile said that Ahmad Shabery raised a valid point about the 1999 general election, because it proved that without Chinese votes, the country’s political landscape would be different today.
Dr Wee, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and MCA deputy president, said this piece of history showed that at times, one component could be weak and the other strong, but the situation could reverse in future.
He was also happy to hear Semarang assemblyman and Ayer Hitam Umno division chief Datuk Samsolbari Jamali pledging his support to help MCA win back Chinese votes for the Yong Peng state seat in GE14.
“What we need is to keep observing the Barisan spirit where all races work together towards a common goal,” he added.
Yong Peng, previously an MCA stronghold seat, was taken by DAP’s Chew Peck Choo in the 13th general election.
Chew secured a majority vote of about 2,000 against MCA’s Lim Kee Moi who was incumbent Yong Peng assemblywoman. In the 2008 general election, MCA won by about 2,000 votes in the state seat.