BN must listen to middle class’s voice, says Musa Hitam

(TMT)n- Former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam said when Malaysians are critical, it should not be dismissed as them being destructive or negative.

In an interview with The Straits Times recently, Musa Hitam said that the Barisan Nasional (BN) must seriously address its concerns such as corruption and misuse of power as the Malaysian middle class is “no pushover”.

He also told the Singapore daily that the middle class today thinks very differently, and the challenge for the leadership is that it should be one step ahead but it has not even kept up.

Musa Hitam said, “That is the problem. The government has provided education to them, but yet, we’ve become less educated and haven’t changed our mindset.”

The Singapore daily also stated that Malaysians have become considerably more vocal about their social, economic and political views and their demands of the government.

It said their disenchantment, particularly in the cities, can be gleaned from the outcome of the general election in May, BN was able to remain in power, but a significant chunk of the urban middle-class votes went to the opposition.

The 79-year-old Musa campaigned for BN at the recent polls in his home state of Johor, as did other party veterans but the ruling coalition only managed to get 133 federal seats in Election 2013, down seven from the 140 in the 2008 polls.

On the Umno polls, Musa said the top Umno posts should be open for contest as that was in keeping with the basic principles of democracy.

 “The argument that if you contest, it will divide the party, is nonsense,” he said frankly.

When asked whether the top posts in Umno ought to be challenged during the much-anticipated party polls,  Musa said,  “That is merely a political argument that serves the incumbents or those who worry about their positions.”

Musa was the country’s deputy prime minister and Umno’s deputy president between 1981 and 1986, when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister.

The articulate and generally well-liked former politician stepped down from his DPM post after a fallout with Dr Mahathir.