KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) lost the support of the Chinese in the Tanjung Piai by-election due to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s refusal to give Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TARUC) its RM30 million allocation, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz claimed today.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of Parliament today, the Padang Rengas MP said that Lim should never have politicised education and refused the allocation simply because the institution is controlled by Barisan Nasional (BN) component party MCA.
“It (Chinese support for BN) can also be a trend for the next general election if PH doesn’t give hope to them. They have done nothing to honour their promises so I think the rakyat was just expressing (their unhappiness).
“Most importantly for TARUC you reduced its allocation to RM1 million. Is that fair? During BN’s time we give RM35 million for the education of Chinese boys and girls. But to say that you don’t want to give them money because of MCA, you are politicising education.
“It can’t be like that. That’s the main reason why the Chinese don’t support them,” Nazri said.
Sembrong (BN) MP Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein pointed out that the Chinese swing to BN was due to their unhappiness.
However, he noted that his coalition has a long way to go to turn the protest vote into reliable support for the next general election.
He said that BN still must look deep into itself but Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng’s success on Saturday has given it a “fresh injection of spirit” to continue — especially with the landslide victory.
“We need to look deep into ourselves but this has given us a fresh injection of spirit to continue. After one-and-a-half years, to be where we are today is a miracle.
“Nobody expected this kind of results. But at the end of the day we also need to perform as an effective Opposition. Now we have one extra voice to do that,” said Hishammuddin.
In the final tally, the Barisan Nasional candidate from MCA received 25,466 votes to bag a majority of 15,086 over PH’s Karmaine Sardini from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, who received 10,380 votes.
At a separate press conference later, MCA president and Ayer Hitam lawmaker Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong concurred with Hishammuddin that Tanjung Piai has given them a strong motivation to perform better as an Opposition.
“We are pleased to see (the Chinese voter’s swing) however we won’t take it for granted. Of course, this time around even DAP analysis points out we have obtained 63 per cent (Chinese support).
“They are so angry with the government but we still have to conduct an analysis and hope we can keep our momentum. We must still identify the cause behind it. There are many factors contributing to this victory,” said Wee.
When asked whether BN’s success could be seen as a referendum of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership, both Hishammuddin and Wee said that it is up to the ruling coalition to assess and resolve the issue among themselves.
The Umno leader said that as far as BN was concerned, the PH candidate was a coalition candidate.
Wee said that it is up to the government to interpret the signals sent by the voters but also advised his political rivals to buck up and fulfil their election manifesto.
“Also, I would like to remind PH to please fulfil your promises that you made 18 months ago. This is the main factor (you lost). Everywhere you go people are disappointed because PH is not fulfilling their promises but are giving excuses.
“Please do something but please don’t tell me after your defeat you won’t do anything. You have three-and-a-half years. So please do whatever you can to fulfil your pledges,” said Wee.