KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today demanded a stop to all attempts at racialising last Sunday’s polls by blaming a particular community for Barisan Nasional’s (BN) poor showing at the ballot boxes.
“This is unfair and unhelpful,” he said in a statement here.
The former prime minister, who stepped down in favour of Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2009 after he led BN to lose its coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority in Election 2008, agreed that following Sunday’s polls results, there was a pressing need for the country to undergo the process of national reconciliation and unity.
He also called on the opposition to accept and respect the election results, despite the fact that they had lost by slim majorities amid claims of fraud and widespread irregularities in the polling process.
“Malaysians deserve stability and certainty that can only come with finality and closure from this election,” he said in his message to the opposition.
“Let us move on in the interest of all Malaysians.”
The just-concluded Election 2013 saw the ruling BN pact recapture federal power but with an even slimmer majority than in Election 2008, polling only 133 seats to Pakatan Rakyat’s 89 in the 222-seat Parliament.
It had been a nail-biting race from start to finish between both powerful pacts and although BN emerged the winner, the vote trend that saw a large majority of the Chinese community backing PR has sparked a mini racial war between those across the political divide.
In his first response at the close of the polls, Najib termed the results a “Chinese tsunami”, even saying that if not handled carefully, the nation could see days of unrest ahead.
He mooted the idea for national reconciliation, saying efforts to unite the country through the introduction of fair and moderate policies were necessary to ensure Malaysia maintains its stability.
But in defiance of the prime minister’s words, analysts and opposition leaders disagreed with Najib’s reading of the election results, pointing out that PR had won the popular vote by a signficant 51.4 per cent to BN’s 48.6 per cent.
They said that this showed that it had not merely been a “Chinese tsunami” that caused BN to bleed seat but a massive swing in the urban and middle-class electorate towards the federal opposition.
The analysts also said that despite the clear increase in Chinese support for PR, the political tsunami had also swept with it “large numbers of the Malays”, many among them forming part of the country’s middle- to upper-class voters.
Adding salt to an alreay festering wound, Umno-owned daily Utusan Malaysia published on its front page yesterday an article headlined “Apa lagi Cina mahu? (What else do the Chinese want?)”, a phrase which has turned viral in the internet’s social sphere.
The newspaper came immediately under fire and angry netizens and politicians across the political divide railed against Najib and Umno for allowing the media to run riot with such incendiary headlines.
But despite the criticisms, Najib came to the paper’s defence yesterday and even appeared to blame the DAP, claiming the predominantly Chinese opposition party had misled the Chinese into greater racial polarisation by making them think that voting the party would lead to a change of government.
“You blamed Utusan but you don’t ask about the Chinese papers,” Najib told a press conference when asked how is he to achieve national reconciliation if Utusan kept harping on race issues.
He did not say what was objectionable in the Chinese-language newspapers.
Joining Najib, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he was shocked BN’s poor performance in Election 2013, and laid the blame on ‘ungrateful’ Chinese and ‘greedy’ Malay voters.