Malaysia’s by-elections could be racially polarizing, undermining the government’s moral and political legitimacy: analyst

Professor James Chin of the University of Tasmania said it would be difficult for UMNO to persuade Malays, who currently make up the majority of Kuala Khubbaru voters, to support its government candidates.

Currently, 50% of voters in the constituency are Malay, 30% Chinese and 18% Indian.

“If the candidate is from DAP, UMNO will have some problems, especially after the spat between Mr. Akmal and Mr. Nga Ko Min,” said Professor Chin, who is also the Minister of Housing and Local Government for DAP. He said this while referring to how the vice-chairman had used abusive language. He spoke to Dr. Akmal about the sock issue.

“A lot[of whether Malay voters will support government candidates]will depend on how aggressively UMNO campaigns among the Malay community.”

Mr Pang is also the current spokesperson for Mr Nga, who sparked controversy in February by suggesting that a new Chinese village in Selangor be nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

UMNO’s Malay nationalists denounced the idea, but the proposal was also criticized by some quarters for evoking painful memories of colonial exploitation.

In a commentary published by Free Malaysia Today, academic and former parliamentarian Kua Khia Sun wrote that the appointment was an “insult” to those who fought against colonial powers.

From 1948 to 1960, the British colonial government, claiming to be fighting an anti-colonial movement, forcibly relocated Chinese Malaysians to heavily monitored settlements with inhumane living conditions. These settlements include new Chinese villages.

Plans to recommend it to UNESCO were subsequently abandoned.

Declining non-Malay support for the national unity government

The government’s problems could be exacerbated by declining support from the non-Malay community, which makes up half of Kuala Kubu Baru’s voters.

Some groups had already asked Indian voters in the constituency not to support the PH candidate, citing dissatisfaction with the nationalist government’s treatment of the Indian community. Mr Anwar defended his treatment of Malaysian Indians.

Beyond that, Sunway University political scientist Wong Chin Huat believes the sock issue has soured relations between DAP and UMNO to the point where UMNO no longer campaigns on DAP’s behalf.

“If UMNO does this, the campaign will be ineffective in attracting support from Malay voters and will be offensive to non-Malays,” he told CNA.

“Those (UMNO members) running (the campaign) will be seen as soft on DAP. At the same time, DAP’s restraint on the KK Supermart issue and Najib (issue) will cause DAP to lose its base. Questions have arisen as to whether the once vocal political party has become the new MCA.”

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