The ‘message’ of the urban voters must be taken seriously: Muhyiddin

(Malay Mail) – After over a month of fingering the Chinese for Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Election 2013 losses, the ruling coalition appeared to sing a different tune today when its deputy chief Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin urged members to take the concerns of urban voters more seriously in preparation for the next federal polls.

Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, pointedly said today that these urban areas include those from all ethnic groups and not just the Chinese community.

His remarks appear to be a marked departure from Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s immediate description of the May 5 polls as a “Chinese tsunami”.

“When we mention the urban people, (it’s) not just the Chinese only, but the Malays, Indians and others in the cities.

“There’s a message that they have given to us and this is something that we must take seriously… so that those who were not so confident will be more confident in the time to come,” Muhyiddin, who is also the deputy prime minister, said in a speech at a Federal Territories BN thanksgiving ceremony here.

Earlier in his speech, Muhyiddin said that BN’s success in defending their current electoral wins would depend on the coalition’s performance and also the urban voters’ concerns.

“Certainly it will depend on a few factors that we found such as the question why many urban voters did not give their support to us.

“Is it because of our weaknesses as a party; or because what we carried out did not fulfil their wishes and desires; or we neglected our duty to help them, or urban issues that we did not pay attention to or other reasons that caused them not to help Barisan Nasional in the last elections?” he asked.

Later, Muhyiddin said that there was a need to pay heed to the demands of the younger voters despite BN’s continued relevance as a party.

He noted their desire for BN’s renewal, including the coalition’s structure and more inclusive policies, which he said must be answered with action from the coalition leaders.

Datuk Raja Nong Chik, the Federal Territories BN deputy chief, urged coalition members to continue fighting for elections.

“We will make sure, one day, we will prove that Barisan Nasional is a party that is relevant, including in urban areas,” the former minister said in a speech at the same event.

Nong Chik also urged BN leaders not to place too much attention on party elections, but asked them to start ramping up efforts to register new voters in preparation for the 14th general election.

Most of the political parties are expected to hold internal polls this year, with some of the BN component parties taking a beating after a poor performance at the 13th general elections.

“We have to solve our internal problems as soon as we can and I believe they can do it,” Muhyiddin said today, later listing MCA, Gerakan, MIC, Umno and unnamed BN component parties in Sabah and Sarawak as facing internal problems.

Despite the national polls being held more than a month ago, the elections and its result continue to dominate the country’s political discourse and the debate for the first week of Parliament.

Analysts and politicians from both sides of the political divide have said that the polls showed a split in voter support for BN and its rival Pakatan Rakyat (PR) based on the urban-rural divide, rather than across racial lines.