CHINESE swing likely

CHANGING TRENDS: As the general election looms, Najib, Lahad Datu and the economy are proving to be major influencing factors in Chinese votes

Yiswaree Palansamy and Hariz Mond, NST

WITH Parliament expected to be dissolved by the first week of next month for a late April general election, political commentators are detecting encouraging signs of shifting attitudes of Chinese voters towards the government.

Many view this as a direct outcome of the government’s deep commitment to win back the trust and confidence of the Chinese community by meeting some of their needs.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself is making a strong push to rally their support.

The results are quite telling.

Take the case of the SM Chong Hwa’s fundraising dinner in Kuantan on Saturday attended by Najib and other Barisan Nasional leaders.

Around 20,000 of the predominantly-Chinese crowd filled Stadium  Darul Makmur to raise RM13 million to build the school, which the Chinese here had long fought for.

Sharing the stage with Hua Zhong president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah and Hong Kong movie superstar Jackie Chan, Najib introduced himself as “Ah Jib Gor” to the crowd, drawing huge applause.

He then announced an additional RM3 million allocation from the government for the school project and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to allow students of the school to sit the Unified Examination Certificate and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations.

Pheng heaped praise on Najib’s commitment to the cultural values of the Chinese. Hua Zhong is the umbrella organisation for  7,000 Chinese guilds and associations.

 Kuantan MCA chief Datuk Ti Lian Ker said the prime minister was being viewed by the Chinese community as “someone who walks the talk”.

 The second trend is the sign of known opposition voters migrating to the “undecided” column ahead of the nationwide polls expected to be held by end of next month. Ti said people who were opposition supporters before were now on the fence, which was a positive sign.

 The third indicator was articulated by Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Associate Professor Sivamurugan Pandian.

He said the Lahad Datu intrusion had been a “game-changer”.

“Many had initially criticised the authorities and security forces over the handling of the incident, but they have managed to handle the crisis well, including pursuing pro-active measures to prevent further problems.

“The Chinese community is observing this. And they might have seen that it is important to have a government that can ensure stability in the country. This should be considered as a turning point.”

Economics is the fourth indicator.

 “Economically, Malaysia is doing very well. During the recent World Economic Forum, Malaysia was seen as one of the nations that investors are highly attracted to.

  “This is a sign that the Economic Transformation Programme brought by the PM is working, and is another good point for BN.”

With Najib leading BN for the first time into a general election, a strong shift in Chinese support is expected to cement his fresh five-year mandate.