The visits to the Chinese school and food court were part of a pre-planned, pre-arranged and calculated marketing campaign to paint a rosy picture for the upcoming Johor state election.
Najib Razak has every reason to smile, if the feedback from ethnic Chinese during his two recent visits is any indicator. First, the former prime minister visited the Foon Yew High School, the top Chinese independent school in the country. He was given an opportunity to speak at the school, despite being the first Malaysian leader to be convicted for corruption and money laundering.
Second, he paid a visit to a food court at Taman Bukit Indah located in the suburbs of Johor Bahru. As anticipated, he attracted a large crowd of Chinese patrons, who scrambled to take photos with him, as if he was Justin Timberlake. Seriously, when was the last time that he had made an impromptu visit to a random Chinese area, only to be ignored, jeered and booed?
Of course, the visits to the Chinese school and food court were part of a pre-planned, pre-arranged and calculated marketing campaign to paint a rosy picture for the upcoming Johor state election. The Foon Yew High School owed him a favour, while the Chinese crowd at the food court were mainly MCA supporters who knew about Najib’s program beforehand.
Najib, the world’s biggest crook, was tasked to promote the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) candidate in Perling – Tan Hiang Kee – largely because the MCA candidate is up against the Democratic Action Party (DAP) strategist, Liew Chin Tong, who is also Johor DAP chairman. In the 2018 General Election, Najib-led Barisan Nasional lost the seat with a majority of 19,533 votes.
Obviously, Najib must be seen to have received a warm welcome from the Chinese community. Otherwise, why bother having a breakfast walkabout if he knew that he would be mocked and insulted. Sure, there could be a small percentage of Chinese voters who might swing from DAP to MCA this round. And this is the bloc of Chinese voters that Najib was trying to fish.
But it’s normal for the swing to happen. In fact, it’s both ignorant and arrogant to say all the Chinese voters will remain blindly loyal to DAP. Why? When DAP managed to charm up to 95% of Chinese voters in 2018, it already reached its peak. It would defy the laws of gravity to say its support will remain forever at 95% and will not come down – what goes up must come down.
The question is, how much Chinese support will DAP lose in the Johor state election, which could be used to project the results of the next 15th national election. Najib would be happy to see a swing of between 20% and 30% of Chinese votes for MCA, the political party known as the lapdog, which was subservient to Najib’s party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).
Based on the previous Melaka state election, UMNO’s support has remained the same in its strongholds. Worse, the Malay nationalist party had actually lost some Malay votes, but was offset with a small swing of Chinese votes. In short, its market share among Malay vote bank is saturated. Malays who hate UMNO and dislike opposition PKR had chosen Bersatu in the Melaka polls.
Therefore, the only option for UMNO is to play the old trick – be nice to the Chinese. And thanks to the extremist and radical Islamic party PAS, UMNO and Najib do not have to work very hard to impress the Chinese. An UMNO warlord, Nur Jazlan, said the more PAS talks about its version of religion and promotes its ridiculous Islamic practices, the more non-Malay will vote for Barisan Nasional.
That explains why UMNO, the dominant and backbone party of Barisan Nasional coalition, has tactically decided to contest only 37 seats in Johor, leaving more seats for its partners MCA (15 seats) and MIC (4 seats) to contest in mixed-seat constituencies. The trick and gimmick was to project a multiracial society where the minorities (MCA and MIC) are not being bullied.
The ethnic Chinese have no good option. They had voted Pakatan Harapan in 2018, only to see PM Mahathir Mohamad happily harbouring and protecting Indian Muslim hate preacher Zakir Naik, a permanent resident of Malaysia who deliberately said the Malaysian Chinese aren’t born in the country so they, as the “old guests”, must go back to China first before he (the “new guest”) can be asked to leave.
After Mahathir resigned irresponsibly, the backdoor government of Muhyiddin Yassin had not only allowed extremist PAS to terrorize and Talibanize the country, but also mishandled the Covid-19 pandemic and mismanaged the economy. The racist and power-crazy Muhyiddin also deliberately discriminated minorities Chinese and Indian in the national budget allocations.
With Najib’s Barisan Nasional, Mahathir’s Pejuang and Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional, the choice isn’t hard for certain Chinese, especially those involved in small businesses. The non-performing Opposition de-facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is seen as neither here nor there, as the PKR president plays safe – as usual – by zipping his mouth whenever a sensitive race and religious issue exploded.
The Chinese are just being pragmatic. Their two top priorities are the economy and education. Hence, out of 10 Chinese, it makes sense that from nine who had voted for the Opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition in 2018, the number could drop to seven this time. To a certain extent, DAP should blame itself for mishandling the UTAR (Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman) issue while in power.
Besides, the majority of the Malay community still worships crooked Najib. To make matters worse, a significant portion of the same ethnic also seems to accept treachery and treason, based on how they voted for Muhyiddin in Melaka. So, why blames a small number of Chinese for accepting Najib when the majority of the Malays can accept Najib and Muhyiddin?
The minority Malaysian Chinese is simply hedging their bets. They knew a Chinese can never become a prime minister, let alone lead a government. Like it or not, Najib is the lesser of three devils compared to Mahathir or Muhyiddin. Anwar, at least for now, is out of the equation as he fails to charm the Malays, not to mention his failure to lead and unite the Opposition.
However, while any Chinese at the food court was free to express their support for the disgraced Najib, it was indeed shameful – even unacceptable – for the board governors of Foon Yew High School to welcome a national crook to the school, let alone allow him to speak to the students. Exactly what type of message was the school sending to its students for welcoming a crook?
It would be a different story if it was a national-type school, where it’s fully funded by the government. A Chinese independent school, however, survives primarily on school fees. More often than not, the students are made to beg for donations from the general public and philanthropists, a practice that has been ongoing for as long as one can remember.
Even though the board of Foon Yew High School said the school was grateful to Najib for approving branches in Kulai (1999) and Seri Alam (2016), they should understand that the ex-PM was there to promote the corrupt Barisan Nasional, not Chinese education. If Najib was indeed respectful of Chinese education as he claimed, his government should have provided full funding for all the Chinese schools.
The school’s chairman Tay Chin Hein should be ashamed of himself if he could not even see how he was easily used and tricked. Has the school forgotten how the Najib government, through the “Red Shirt” radical movement, had called for the abolishment of Chinese vernacular schools in 2015? Clearly, Najib was playing the Chinese education issue whenever it suited him.
Interestingly, there was confusion over how Najib ended up giving a speech at the Chinese school. While the school board said it was Najib who had asked for the visit, Najib claimed the school had invited him. But the best part was how Najib appeared to demand respect, quoting a Chinese proverb – “those who drink water from the well will not forget the person who dug the well”.
Najib also orchestrated the visit to attack his rival, Muhyiddin, comparing himself with Muhyiddin, who had rejected the setting up of Chinese independent schools when he was the education minister from 2009 to 2015. Obviously, Najib’s ulterior motive was to use the school to remind the Chinese to be grateful – and vote – for Barisan Nasional in the upcoming Johor state polls.
In truth, the third campus of Foon Yew High School in Seri Alam was announced just before the 13th General Election in 2013. Even then, Barisan Nasional logo was forced to be used on promotional material for the independent Chinese school’s fundraising Walkathon event. MCA, who contributed RM1 million for the RM80 million campus, has been capitalizing on the school for Chinese votes.
Now, both MCA and Najib are trying to milk the Chinese independent school again for the Chinese votes. Even after Najib’s election gift in 2013, it would take another three years before Foon Yew High School was eventually given the approval to set up the Seri Alam branch. He, together with Muhyiddin, was actually dragging their feet after the 13th General Election. – Finance Twitter