After Umno attacks, Pakatan says must assuage ‘Malay fears’

(The Malaysian Insider) – Admitting that Umno’s attacks can affect the opposition’s Malay support base, Pakatan Rakyat leaders (PR) have said they will focus on alleviating fears that the dominant community’s rights would be at risk under their rule.

Top PR leaders who spoke to The Malaysian Insider said more needed to be done to create awareness among the Malays on how the pact’s four states implemented policies that “empowered” the community, as well as a guarantee the community would not be sidelined.

Umno intensified its attacks against the opposition two weeks ago through its general assembly that saw delegates and leaders accusing PR of being anti-Malay and Islam.

“Umno is reverting back its age old policy of Malay agenda which has enabled it to maintain its traditional support base in the past. But Pakatan has not done enough to alleviate these Malay fears, despite how untruthful it is,” Nurul Izzah Anwar told The Malaysian Insider.

“Our message needs to be carefully catered to address Malay fears stemming from the use of politics of fear and race that the Umno-BN is currently using against us.”

The PKR vice-president said Malay support for PR has been noticeably affected since Umno’s renewed attacks, and that PR’s ceramah circuit was a way they could counter the “baseless” accusations.

 “Pakatan has policies, like in Penang for example, where 70 per cent of contracts go to deserving Bumiputera contractors based on an open tender system. We have these policies implemented but we need to address them, keep repeating it and remind people during ceramahs, perhaps through leaflets.

“More often than not, politics is about perception,” she said.

One of the most common misconceived notions about PR, said Nurul Izzah, was that Malay rights and privileges would be in jeopardy should they take over Putrajaya.

“We reiterate our commitment to defending the Articles spelled out in the Federal Constitution, including maintaining and protecting the special position of the Malays… I believe the policies enshrined in our Common Policy Framework (CPF) address the problems faced by many Malaysians, especially focusing on alleviating the poor — most of whom include Malays.

“Steps proposed such as minimum wage legislation, focusing on and strengthening vocational and technical institutions, as well as returning the independence of various institutions to ensure we tackle graft, corruption and abuse of power accordingly, are crucial in changing current economic conditions and improving the overall welfare of the rakyat — Malays included,” said the Lembah Pantai MP.

She said this issue was an “on-going agenda” but became more important in light of the upcoming election.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution agreed, saying coalition is already taking steps to counter Umno’s claims.