Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dr M says debating racial issues will cost BN votes

Dr M says debating racial issues will cost BN votes
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
December 11, 2010

Tun Dr Mahathir stresses that BN represents all races. - file picture
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed issued a warning today to Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties against bringing up racial issues, saying that such a move will cost the ruling coalition to lose votes at the ballot box.

The former prime minister gave a stern reminder to BN component parties like MCA, MIC and Gerakan, stressing that BN was a party for all races, and its coalition members needed to stop playing up to each other’s race gallery.

“The problem with some component parties of BN is that in their desire to be popular, they like to bring up racial issues. And that will be negative because you only promote your particular race and others will get annoyed.

“When this happens, they will not support you,” the 85-year old politician bluntly said.

“They (BN component parties) need to know this...BN represents all races, not just one race,” Dr Mahathir told reporters today.

Dr Mahathir’s response today comes shortly after BN concluded its annual convention last weekend, where MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had shocked his BN colleagues with calling for a ban on the term “ketuanan Melayu.”

In his speech at the BN convention, Dr Chua had made direct references to Umno as he reminded the ruling party that the MCA, and all other component parties, deserved to receive equal recognition as coalition partners.

Dr Chua had told his Umno allies that there should not be a “big brother, small brother” system in the ruling pact.

The veteran politician even took a direct swipe at Umno by pointing out that the MCA was not in agreement with how important government policy decisions were made during Umno supreme council meetings instead in the Cabinet.

The MCA president’s remarks were not well received by many Umno leaders, with Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein saying this week that Dr Chua had upset a number of leaders last weekend with his remarks.

Hishammuddin had said that many had expressed their dissatisfaction that the straight-talking MCA president had used the Barisan Nasional convention over the weekend as a platform to air his grouses against Umno.

Dr Mahathir has also attacked Dr Chua for his firebrand remarks earlier this week, calling it “illogical and baseless.”

“I don’t have to make any reference to which party I am referring to, you know it better than me,” said Dr Mahathir today when asked whether his remarks today were directed towards the MCA.

The former PM also remained unconvinced that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak would call for snap elections by the first quarter of next year.

“I can’t read the PM’s mind, but in my opinion I think we should give ourselves time. We see that people are still not yet settled. I think that the PM would want to make sure that the BN will win with a good majority,” said Dr Mahathir.

Speculation is rife that Najib would call for snap polls by March next year.

He however noted that it was “good” that leaders within BN who had outlived their “usefulness” left the party, in a reference to former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

“I think that we all have our useful lives, but there comes a time where we are no longer useful.

“Like me when I am no longer useful I step down,” said Dr Mahathir.

Samy, the longest-serving MIC president, stepped down on Monday, handing over his post to Datuk G. Palanivel.

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