A swing for Najib, a slap for MCA, MIC

By Tashny Sukumaran, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR: Has Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s popularity rendered the component parties MCA and MIC irrelevant?

According to leading political analysts, Najib’s popularity is a major – if not the main – factor in the swing of support for Barisan Nasional (BN).

Political analyst Ong Kian Ming said that the renewed support for BN was due to public confidence in Najib, especially with regard to the various initiatives done by Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit under the Prime Minister’s Department).

“MIC and MCA have to depend on Najib to win back their seats. It is much harder for the two parties to ‘blackmail’ Umno by drumming up support from the Indians and Chinese not to support Umno candidates,” he said.

Ibrahim Suffian, Merdeka Centre’s programme director, warned of infighting, saying that it “doesn’t help BN as a whole because it gives the impression that things are not well-coordinated”.

“But with a new prime minister comes new and fresh ideas. Najib appeals to undecided voters who look more towards a leader and what he says than to a specific party.”

MCA central committee member Ti Lian Ker, however, feels this is untrue.

“The fact that MCA is financially independent and a structured political party will ensure that we continue to play an independent role in representing the people, especially the interests of the minority.”

He added that MCA “does not only represent the Chinese community’s interest, but also that of all Malaysians whose voices have been overlooked or disregarded”.

“We have also been approached by Malays and Bumiputeras who have privately confided to us that they are supporting MCA as the moderating force to check any racial or religious extremism.”

Ti was also commenting on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Nazri’s Abdul Aziz’s warning to MIC and MCA.

Nazir recently said the two parties should not attempt to “blackmail” Umno as the party could move directly to the people and not through MCA.

This was in response to a MCA threat to boycott Nazri in the coming by-election after he labelled MCA a “disgruntled wife” who refuses to divorce BN.