Monday, May 20

Wooing Chinese voters


EXCHANGING VIEWS: Ahmad (centre) discussing contents of The Borneo Post with senior managing editor Francis Chan and See Hua Marketing general manager (sales) Pattrik Ting (right). – Photo by Phyllis Wong

PUTRAJAYA: Winning back Chinese voters is BN’s biggest challenge in the coming general election

The biggest challenge facing Barisan Nasional (BN) in the state in the coming general election is winning back the Chinese voters.

Datuk Ahmad Maslan, the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and BN information chief, told The Borneo Post at his office here on Monday that this situation was the same in all other states.

As such, the urban Chinese majority seats would be the ones most vulnerable to the opposition’s challenge.

He added that the federal government might not have engaged the Chinese enough in the past but it was now rectifying the situation by listening to them more.

Although he acknowledged that it would not be an easy task, Ahmad said BN was optimistic that it would win back some of the Chinese voters and hopefully wrest some of the seats from the opposition.

“We believe the Chinese are rational people and they want peace and progress as much as anyone. If we can assure them that their needs too would be looked into, I am sure many of them would vote for BN.”

However, he stressed that BN was not taking the rural seats in the state for granted and the BN government had been working hard in bringing development to these areas and going to the ground to listen to their problems.

The federal government had been trying its best to deliver the promises of projects made to the rural areas and Najib himself had gone to places like Lachau to find out about their problems.

To ensure that the projects promised were delivered, the federal government had set up the Implementation Coordination Unit (ICU) to monitor their progress, he added.

Despite all these efforts Ahmad said BN was aware that there were also some rural seats in the state where BN would face tough challenges in the election.

When pressed to name the seats, Ahmad mentioned the coastal seats of Batang Lupar and Sadong Jaya where PAS seemed to have made some inroads among the Malay voters and Limbang where one of the state seats Ba Kelalan is under PKR.

Ahmad brushed off speculations that the relationship between Sarawak state government and the federal government is strained at the moment because of the disputes besetting SUPP and SPDP.

On the contrary, Sarawak had always maintained a strong and cordial relationship with Kuala Lumpur, he added.

He admitted that there were rough edges to be ironed out but those were not major issues and were not unsolvable.

Ahmad also pointed out that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had always kept a close personal relationship with Chief Minister Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud and they had always consulted each other on major issues affecting the state.

On the perception that the federal government was backing Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui in the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) leadership tussle with Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, Ahmad said it was not true.

He added that it was only natural for Chin to have strong rapport and frequent communications with federal leaders as he is a federal minister stationed in Putra Jaya but that did not mean the federal government was throwing its weight behind the embattled SUPP president.

When asked who would have the final say in the selection of candidates for the parliamentary seats in Sarawak in the coming general election, Ahmad stressed that such decisions were always arrived at after consultations between the chief minister, prime minister and president of the party.

“This is the way BN works, we decide on the candidates based on consensus and consultations,” he said.