Monday, October 29, 2007

The impact of Khairy remarks on Malaysia ruling coalition

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi son in law Khairy Jamaluddin, has said that if the ruling UMNO party becomes weak, other non-Malay parties would use the opportunity to make demands.

His remarks came as he moved to deflect recent criticism of the government from former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Khairy remains unapologetic about his remarks, resisting the calls from the Malaysian Chinese Association or MCA for an apology.

Loretta Foo spoke with Liew Chin Tong, an independent political analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, and asked him why Khairy made those comments.

LCT: Khairy has been embroiled in the problems with Mahathir regarding his share-holding with ECM-Libra. So Khairy has to de-stress his shares in the company and it was a sort of a scandal that Khairy got a loan from the company and he was the centre of the scandal or scandal-like rumours and discussions. But for him to divert the attention, for him to come up and say that the Chinese are not doing the right thing diverts the attention and serves him very well. It is a politically calculated move.

What are the implications of Khairy refusal to apologise for his remarks?

LCT: It is now quite interesting because it is his father-in-law who asked him to explain, although the Prime Minister did not ask him to apologise, the Prime Minister has asked him to openly come clean about the comment. So now it is interesting as we see whether Khairy can resist his father-in-law cum Prime Minister instructions. Whether this will boost his status in UMNO or not remains to be seen.

Given the current tensions involving Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, how are Khairy remarks likely to play out?

LCT: At the moment, Khairy is doing a very interesting job of diverting attention. I think this has diverted attention at least in the Chinese media and now, in part, in other media as well in the last week from the focus on Mahathir. Mahathir had become a non-issue till he declared that he would contest a seat in his branch to be a delegate. But for about a week or so, Mahathir disappeared from the media attention, in part because of Khairy remarks. So as a strategy to divert attention, I think it served Khairy very well. In the long term for Khairy to survive in a multi-racial, multi-ethnic Malaysia, this situation doesnt serve his public image well among the Chinese and it is quite sad that Khairy who is that young, who can usher in a new paradigm would harp on the old issues and to go the old way.

Will Khairy remarks affect Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi credibility within the Barisan Nasional coalition?

LCT: I dont think so unless trouble escalates and there are stronger demands from MCA and the Prime Minister is being seen as not taking any serious action but at the moment, it seems that MCA will back down instead of Khairy backing down.

Mr Abdullah has attempted to calm the situation by asking for a halt to discussions over sensitive racial issues. How far will this serve to resolve the situation?

LCT: I would like to distinguish between racial issues and religious issues. I think that there are some serious tensions when it comes to religious issues since religious groups have mobilised tens of thousands of people regarding Article 11 and Article 1121a) as well as other issues. But it seems to me that racial issues, especially when it comes to distribution of wealth and the NEP or the New Economic Policy, many Malays seem to be seeing though UMNO stance, that UMNO is for the Malays and I think that remains a very UMNO turf. When it comes to religious issues, somehow there is a sense of solidarity among Muslims, and that poses some serious tensions. But when it comes to the distribution of wealth and when it comes to racial slants, it seems to me that it is only UMNO that is talking about it and many Malays, especially those who support the opposition and those who support former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, seem to be seeing though this.

That was Liew Chin Tong, an independent political analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, and he was speaking with Loretta Foo.


Anonymous,  October 29, 2007 at 4:57 PM  

In some ways, I think Khairy is trying to fit in the same development mold as the ‘ultras’ of 70s and 80s.

The ‘trials by fire’ for the Young Turks of UMNO have always been to whip up racialistic (sorta like ‘nationalistic’, but referring to race) sentiments to the point of getting credo as an ‘unyielding Malay politician’.

Chinese recalcitrance, economic quota, Malays supremacy… those are recurrent topics since the 70s. Over-grilled, as I would say it. There’s nothing significant added to expand, justify, or clarify those concepts since Mahathir’s Malay Dilemma.

In some ways, I think the expansion, justification, and clarification of Malay racial supremacy as a political thought is no longer sufficient to convince the general population. But still, we are left with the emotional and symbolic baggage that those terms carry.

Anonymous,  October 29, 2007 at 4:57 PM  

“There’s nothing significant added to expand, justify, or clarify those concepts since Mahathir’s Malay Dilemma.”

You are quite right. Mahathir is Malay supremicist par excellent.

I have got hold of Mahathir’s letters to Straits Times while studying in Singapore. He used Che Det as psuedonym.

He has not really run away from his thoughts when he was a twenty-something. And, it was 1949! As far as political thought is concerned, UMNO and Malaysia have not grown much in the last half-a-century.

ibuarissa,  October 30, 2007 at 10:26 AM  

bro-Jinggo, tolong lah semak dulu ejaan title tu sebelum post. 'Impac'? 'remaks'? amende.... ini mmg nak kena gelak...

X-man,  October 30, 2007 at 12:17 PM  

Terima kasih diatas keperihatinan anda, manusia tak semuanya sempurna..

chikuano October 30, 2007 at 2:44 PM  

KJ saya rasa elok saudara berundur untuk mengelakkan fitnah kerana kesihatan fizikal dan mental saudara lebih penting. Saudara sudah kaya dan senang. Kan elok saudara pergi melancong dan berhibur dengan duit yang banyak itu dari masuk politik yang kotor dan menjijikkan. Buat apa ada duit banyak tetapi hati tidak senang kan. Saya berkata begitu kerana di Malaysia ni banyak hipokrit. Tengok TDM lepas dia berhenti habis semua orang menyisihkannya. Itu bekas PM tetapi saudara hanya menantu PM. Kalau bapa mertua saudara berhenti atau meninggal dunia saudara fikir orang-orang UMNO akan sokong saudara terutamanya yang veteran. Semuanya sekarang ini pun tak sabar nak menjatuhkan saudara tetapi oleh sebab ada bapa mertua saudara itu ajalah mereka sekarang berdiam. Dari sahabat saudara KJ

chikuano October 31, 2007 at 2:04 PM  

KJ nak jumpa you 50 K tu mahal sangat. Habis tu nak buat modal apa. Kalau 5 K oklah. Discount sikit laa lepas dapat projek saya kasi 10 % ok.

denha_za,  November 8, 2007 at 10:38 PM  

nak jumpa kj nak wat apa?nak projek dari dia ke...

tak payah jumpa dia pun tak apa.yang penting kita perlu terus memajukan diri kita agar setanding dgn bangsa2 lain yang maju didunia dan malaysia amnya

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