PETALING JAYA – Prime Minister Najib Razak’s jibe at his predecessor for not visiting a Chinese hospital in Kuala Lumpur in the 22 years of being PM is meaningless, an analyst has said.
Assoc Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi said there was no need for former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to react to Najib’s jibe, even as a public relations exercise, as the latter had long contributed to the well-being of the Chinese.
“You have to draw comparisons in totality, not narrowly, as this would not impact the Chinese voters as a whole.
“It is difficult to compare, more so to compare oneself with someone who is held in high esteem, is a national icon and a statesman who is respected by Malaysians,” he said, adding that Mahathir’s name was also etched in history as well as in school textbooks.
Azman noted that back when Mahathir was prime minister, the Chinese community had entrusted him to lead the country, in the context of formulating policies and given its political support to him.
He said this was proven during the 1998 Reformasi, and the subsequent general election in 1999, when he was still given the trust by the Chinese community.
He gave the example of how DAP had only managed to secure 10 parliamentary seats then, which was proof that Chinese support was still with Mahathir and Barisan Nasional (BN).
“So Mahathir does not need to fish for votes nor support in a desperate manner. Back then, he had convinced the Chinese community that MCA was what was best for them,” he said.
Azman noted that the Chinese looked at bigger issues, such as the economy, security and integrity.
If the economic prosperity currently enjoyed continues to deteriorate, the community will shift its support to other parties, in hopes of better times, he added.
“They will get mad and offended when their general needs are not properly understood, and words like ‘Apa lagi Cina mahu?’ (‘What else do the Chinese want?’) crop up.”
As for political analyst Prof James Chin, Najib’s attempt to reach out to the Chinese community ahead of the 14th general election (GE14) will not work — similar to what happened in the last general election.
Chin noted that compared with Mahathir, Najib had done less harm to the Chinese community, stating that Mahathir systematically sidelined the Chinese community during his rule, so much so that MCA and Gerakan were seen as “Umno’s running dogs”.
He also noted that Najib had actually liberalised some economic policies, which helped Chinese businessmen.
“Nevertheless, the Chinese will not support Najib because they see Umno as a racist party.
Chin stated that the Chinese were in a dilemma of sorts as the community viewed both Mahathir and Najib as practising Umno racism and promoting Islamisation.
“But the Chinese also know the best chance of getting rid of Umno is through Mahathir. This is the DAP argument.
“Najib is wasting his time with the Chinese voters. At the end of the day, no matter how much Najib gives to Chinese hospitals or schools, I predict they will still support DAP,” he added.
Najib had on Thursday visited the Tung Shin hospital and the maternity hospital, and threw a jibe at Mahathir, saying the latter had never visited both hospitals in his 22 years as prime minister.