BN parties defend Bukit Gantang Chinese community over loss

(NST) – Senior Barisan Nasional component parties defended today the Chinese community in Bukit Gantang, saying piecemeal offerings should not be seen as a guarantee of votes.

The MCA and Gerakan both said the coalition’s failure to wrest the seat from the opposition could not be pinned down to any one reason. 

The two parties were commenting on a statement by deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who said the dip in Chinese votes seemed to imply that “there is no appreciation for what we (BN) have done”.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, on Saturday also blamed Umno’s coalition partners, saying Umno could no longer rely on the MCA, Gerakan and MIC to regain the support of the non-Malays.

Gerakan deputy president Chang Ko Youn said yesterday that while it was quite obvious they lost out on Chinese votes, it was wrong to say the community was ungrateful to the BN for its contributions.

Admitting there had been mistakes on their part in strategising the BN’s campaign in Bukit Gantang, he pointed out that the non-Malay community’s dissatisfaction was not something that could be resolved with campaign promises and one-off allocations.

“We shouldn’t be looking for a scapegoat. What is more important is to find the reason why the anger of the non-Malays has not subsided since one year ago.

“We must realise that last-minute work is not effective anymore. It was too little, too late, and we need to find more continuous and long-term solutions,” he said.

MCA spokesman and central committee member Lee Wei Kiat, in a statement, said a RM1 million allocation could not be expected to sway the votes of the non-Malays, who, along with the Malays, were frustrated over numerous issues.

Among these, he said, were lop-sided decisions in licensing and diesel subsidies for fishermen in Kuala Sepetang, unresolved status of village land ownership in Perak and the problems in the implementation of the New Economic Policy.

MCA vice-president Datuk Kong Cho Ha said Muhyiddin should not draw such a conclusion merely based on the results of one or two by-elections.

MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam declined to comment on the issue when met in Malacca.