GEORGE TOWN, May 1 ― The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government must actively rebut alleged racial and religious propaganda from PAS and Umno in order to win rural Malay support, said DAP's P. Ramasamy today.
The Perai assemblyman said economic reforms alone were ineffectual among this segment of voters as they do not directly benefit from such efforts, adding that the pact’s recent by-election losses demonstrated this.
He said it is obvious the B40 group was unhappy even when the government’s policies were not actually detrimental to them.
“This is because of a perception that they were losing out and the perception that the non-Malays are benefiting from the PH government policies,” he said in a statement today.
He said Umno and PAS were combining efforts to spread the purported racial and religious propaganda, which was beginning to sway the rural Malays, particularly those who were also in the B40 segment.
Ramasamy, who is also Penang deputy chief minister II, said PH must incorporate counter-arguments into its framework in order to neutralise this menace.
He alleged that PH’s rivals were actively seeking to pit Malays against non-Malays on racial and religious matters, such as portraying the latter as the main beneficiaries of the new government’s efforts.
PH was also being accused of being a threat to Malay institutions, Islam, Bahasa Malaysia, and the royalty, he added.
“It is this growing divide in both class and ethnic terms and perhaps not mitigated by concrete benefits that might have alienated the rural Malays,” he said.
He also agreed with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who warned of the slow alienation of rural Malays.
Ramasamy said even if Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad might not agree with the view, PH should not wait until five years before seeking to win the rural Malay vote.
While acknowledging that the ruling coalition needed to focus on steadying the economy at the moment, he said it must not neglect to develop a strong political foundation to appeal to all segments of the country.
He also reminded the coalition that its upset victory in the general election was not based on economic performance but on the basis of ideas and promises made to the people.
“Most of the times PH leaders are well-meaning and sincere, they, however, cannot assume that economic benefits arising from sound economic policies can bring about the much-needed support from the masses,” he said.