This is what the Chinese want

― Ong Hean Teik
The Malaysian Insider
May 08, 2013

MAY 8 ― The Utusan Malaysia headline of May 7 posed an interesting and pertinent question of what more do the Chinese in Malaysia want. It is a pity that Utusan is unable to see that what the Chinese want is, in fact, what the educated urban Malaysian voter wants, regardless of race or religion. There are three important characteristics lacking in the Barisan of today.

Intelligent, courageous leadership

The Chinese comprise only 30 per cent of Malaysian voters, yet Pakatan Rakyat won 51 per cent of the total votes cast. By saying that the election result was because of the Chinese voters, the Barisan Nasional leadership demonstrates an inability to objectively face reality.

Barisan’s acceptance of Zulkifli Nordin as its direct Shah Alam candidate similarly shows a lack of intelligence and courage. Here is a lawyer who does not feel that dialogue and discussion can resolve matters, having forcefully disrupted a Law Society seminar. He has vowed loyalty to, and then turned on his previous political parties. He has publicly belittled an ancient religion with a million Malaysian followers.

Umno making way for Ibrahim Ali to contest the Pasir Mas constituency is similarly bad judgement, showing its acceptance and approval of a crude man who prides himself with using vulgar words in public interviews.

To give them such special honour and credit shows a lack of intelligent reasoning and an inability to stand up against the loud extremist faction of the party.

Attributing the election outcome to a “Chinese tsunami” is illogical in the face of concrete facts and data. PAS won an additional seven state seats in Selangor, all in Malay majority areas.

Lim Kit Siang could not have achieved a majority of over 14,000 votes in Gelang Patah without good support from Malays who form 35 per cent of the electorate there.

Similarly the Umno-backed Perkasa extremists were conclusively rejected in Pasir Mas (96 per cent Malay) and in Shah Alam where Malays make up 70 per cent of the electorate.

To blindly spin the 2013 election outcome to suit its raced-based founding philosophy of 1947 shows up a political party that wants to be stubbornly unwise. Unless Umno’s leadership can find the courage to face facts, the party may become redundant and obsolete for the educated 21st century voter.

Respect and recognition of rights

Academic studies have consistently shown that increased income brings more happiness and satisfaction only up to a certain point. When a society progresses out of poverty into middle class, increasing income does not increase satisfaction proportionately. It is the psychological aspects of living that produces a better quality of life.

Whatever the radiation scientists claim, the people of Bentong (45 per cent Malay, 44 per cent Chinese) will ask why a factory run by an Australian company is unsuitable for Australia or Damansara Heights but can be located in their backyard.

In 2008, Health Minister Liow won Bentong by over 12,000 votes. This year he retained Bentong with less than 400 votes against a political novice who is a green activist. The urban electorate, Chinese or Malay, seeks respect and recognition of their right to a safe living environment.

In Penang, the 1 Malaysia Charity organisation hosted numerous concerts and dinners in support of Barisan candidates. At their functions, T-shirts, beer, hawker food and lucky draw gifts were given free.

Initially there was merriment and wonder at this new campaigning style; this then became anger and disgust when even cash incentives were handed out. The electorate felt they were treated with disrespect, as if their rights, dignity and vote were for sale.

Numerous development issues had plagued the Penang DAP government in the months leading up to the election, and the increased majority they subsequently obtained can only be explained by the strong rejection what the other side represents. Money cannot buy happiness, and similarly, the urban electorate set out to show that money cannot buy their vote in Penang.

The urban electorate in Malaysia is obviously better off economically compared to the rural dwellers. They have reached a stage when extra economic incentives can no longer easily win their approval.

Instead they asked for respect, and an acknowledgement of their right to an inclusive, peaceful existence in the country. They seek recognition as a legitimate electorate with the right to choose the governing party. Blaming and insulting them for voting against the Barisan will only guarantee the DAP and Pakatan a brighter future.

Competent efficient institutions

There is no doubt that relative to those who were once our equivalent, we Malaysians have fallen behind. The Singapore dollar which was equivalent to the ringgit in the 1970’s is today 2.5 times higher. Malaysia beat South Korea and Japan in the 1972 Olympic football qualifying rounds; today we are nowhere near these 2 World Cup Finals participating countries.

Universiti Malaya had topped the list of universities passing the United States medical qualifying examination in 1969, ahead of Melbourne and Singapore University. In 2011, Universiti Malaya was ranked 401 out of the 500 universities in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities.

The educated, smart-phone holding, internet-surfing, urban voter is aware of world-wide trends and wants to experience the best that life can offer. When the governing party is unable to develop the country to its full potential, its popularity will drop.

As demonstrated by the Noble prize winning Dr Ivan Pavlov, animals respond to incentives, and man is no exception. A system that promotes those who agree with and pamper those in power while sidelining those working hard to pursue competency will breed inefficient malfunctioning institutions. Even those not under their direct employment will be affected by these incompetent institutions.

When the police force is politicised and crime rate increases, more money will have to be spent on personal and household security. Even Datuk Nazir Razak admitted that he had hesitated coming back to Malaysia because of concerns about his children’s education. When the middle class spends on private education or healthcare, votes for the governing party will drop.


The Chinese now make up only 25 per cent of Malaysia’s population and to be named as the cause of major developments in the country is to be hurtful to this minority and insulting to the majority. On the other hand, government statistics show that Malaysia’s urban population has increased from 62 per cent in 2000 to 71 per cent in 2010.

No amount of rhetorical whitewashing can hide the fact that the poor performance of Barisan in the 2013 election is due to its failure to win the heart and mind of the urban voter. The faster it faces reality and move away from its obsolete race-based mindset, the better its prospects for the next electoral battle.

* Dr Ong Hean Teik is a consultant cardiologist in Penang. He reads The Malaysian Insider.

  1. #1 by Godfather on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 8:27 am

    The Chinese want UMNO to stop stealing in broad daylight. Is this even possible ?

  2. #2 by SENGLANG on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 9:01 am

    Most of the politicians knew what Malaysian or Chinese origin wants. The problem is that many of these politicians not all manipulate the issues for their political gains. The race card is always the best know issue that can be politically manipulated all for one reason to gain support so that they can continue to cling to the power.

  3. #3 by drngsc on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 9:16 am

    Hi HT, well written.
    I believe that this is a smoke screen as they try to come to grips with GE 13 results and why and how they lost.
    The “Chinese Tsunami” phrase was a severe mistake, made by a very tired mind, who did not think before he spoke, picked by by a very racist press who delights in Chinese bashing.
    We can only correct this wrong by overturning the GE 13 results, change the tenant at Putrajaya and build a Malaysia for all Malaysians, as we saw in Kelana Jaya, Batu Kawan, Ipoh and Kuantan.
    Our BN politicians ( except for very few ) and Utusan only know the politics of racism and politics of division.
    After 56 years, they have not learned. So sad.

  4. #4 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 9:25 am

    (1) Good leaders
    (2) Basic rights
    (3) Competent/efficient institutions

    That is what the author wanted. A pretty short list I must say. Nevertheless, if the list items were read broadly and generously, I suppose the list could just about cover most of the things we all aspire in order for malaysia to become a good country.

    Yeah, the concluding bit in the last sentence is critical – “to become a good country”. We all wanted malaysia to become better than what it is now. But perversely to umno people that very request tantamounts to racism and to being racist.

    To them, unless we accept umno’s right to plunder and steal, we would in their eyes be racist. Never mind the fact that such view is completely devoid of all logic and rationale, they will surely continue to assert it no matter what.

    So DAP is a racist party because it fought for equality and good governance; and is against corruption.

  5. #5 by Winston on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 9:57 am

    Very frankly, it’s not what the Chinese want!
    It’s not what the Indians want!
    Or even what the Malays want!
    What they want is of no importance and consequence to the ruling party!
    It’s want the top hierarchy in the ruling party wants that really counts!
    And they are directing every vile and every ploy towards that end.
    The end justifies the means!
    And what does the ruling party want?
    To carry on with their corruption, scams and scandals ad-infinitum!!

  6. #6 by lauksnatlks on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 9:59 am

    We can harp until the cow comes home but will that change the Umtras’ (Umno Ultras) mindset ? Better concentrate on planning and winning the next GE by moving into the heartlands of UMNO, the kampong folks via tangible programmes that can win the heart of these folks. I hope all aspiring candidates for the next election can start the ground work today.

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 10:09 am

    What do the Chinese want ?

    Well they certainly don’t want to be blamed for anything that the other party(ies) have a problem with which is just about everything. They just don’t want to be the punching bag or made the scapegoat.

    Same goes for the other races as well.

  8. #8 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 10:29 am

    ” …. In Penang, the 1 Malaysia Charity organisation hosted numerous concerts and dinners in support of Barisan candidates. At their functions, T-shirts, beer, hawker food and lucky draw gifts were given free…. ”

    They all eat and be merry and then go bite the hands of their benefactors. They were all smart and quickly saw through the ruse and schemes of these ‘benefactors’.

    Now some Malay NGOs and pressure groups want to boycott Chinese businesses that are seen and believed to be linked to the Opposition. Joe and Co are really having a bad time.

  9. #9 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 11:59 am

    What is being demanded, Chinese/urban voters are FUNDAMENTAL soundness – moving away from many years of abusing systems and privilleges to at least the disadvantage of the masses regardless of race and religion..

    What the elitist UMNO is determined to do is exercise the advantage they already have further..They are determined to prove that the advantage they have cannot or don’t have to be changed. They don’t care a hoot a if the fundamental change is good for the country and everyone. They don’t care when the change disadvantage, damages their privilleged group-self and in fact will fight to hell freezes over..

    Its a class war and UMNO is going to fight to the death for their class..

  10. #10 by on cheng on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 - 8:28 pm

    HOW DO YOU FEEL? if someone blame the Johor, Sabah, and Sarawak voters for not waking up yet n still vote BN ?
    Anyway, it is NOT true that only Chinese voted for Pakatan, there are probably more Malay who voted for Pakatan than the Chinese did ! Why ? well simple, Chinese only made up about 25% of population !
    Why is it that when urbanized Malay voted for PAS or PKR or DAP, there is no blame on them ??

  11. #11 by rockdaboat on Thursday, 16 May 2013 - 2:03 pm

    While the PM claims that Malaysia is one of the most democratic countries in the world, I find it laughable that he can turn around to criticize how voters had voted!

  12. #12 by Winston on Thursday, 16 May 2013 - 2:23 pm

    All Malaysians want GE13 to be restored to the legitimate owners!!!!
    The PR!
    As per the electorate’s votes!!!

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