Hard-selling Dr M to the Chinese

  • Analysis
  • Wednesday, 02 May 2018

KEDAH politicians who know Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) well claim that he is ultra-sensitive to rain or as one of them put it, "not even one drop of rain".

It is their way of stating his delicate state of health.

Well, he proved them wrong when he turned up at a ceramah in the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat amid a steady drizzle to campaign for his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia candidate Rina Harun.

Dr Mahathir, aged 92 and the oldest candidate in GE14, has been received by eager crowds at all the political gatherings he has been to.

He told a Singapore publication that he has been pleasantly surprised by the Chinese response towards him.

In fact, he has been endorsed by no less than DAP's Hew Kuan Yau aka Superman, who is known for his ultra-Chinese views.

It is really the mother of all ironies to find two such diverse characters on the same page although they have yet to share the same stage.

Their supporters say they are uniting for a common cause to dethrone Barisan Nasional but their detractors call it U-turn politics.

At an all-Chinese affair ceramah in Teluk Intan on Monday (April 30) night, Hew went on and on about Dr Mahathir. He must have mentioned the former premier's name more than 100 times in the process of explaining why Pakatan Harapan has to accept Dr Mahathir as their prime minister candidate.

He said they have to "ride on Tun Mah" (Dr Mahathir's name sounds like horse in Chinese), while mimicking a horse-riding motion, in order to create the Malay tsunami.

He also imitated a man sobbing away as he told his audience that Dr Mahathir has repented, that he is genuine in wanting to bring change and had shed tears over it in a recent promo video.

Most of all, Hew stressed over and over again that there are "terms and conditions" in accepting Dr Mahathir as their prime minister nominee.

The subtext to this is that DAP will control Dr Mahathir, he will not be allowed to call the shots if he wins and even if he becomes the Prime Minister.

Moreover, as Hew repeatedly stressed, Dr Mahathir is 92. The unspoken implication here is that the elder man does not have long to live, so the Chinese need not worry that it will be another long dictatorship.

Why such an elaborate effort to convince the Chinese about Dr Mahathir when the majority of them are leaning towards DAP?

According to a Chinese lawyer, the traditional hardcore DAP supporters are still upset about Dr Mahathir's role and the use of the PKR logo instead of the rocket.

This cohort had spent their entire life hating Dr Mahathir and trying to topple him. Now they are being asked to support another round of Dr Mahathir.

"They need to assure this group that it is not against the sacrifices they have made for the party, that it does not belittle their sacrifices," said the lawyer.

The Chinese acknowledge that he changed the country but they have never really liked him and they think he also never liked them.

They view him as a Malay-first type of politician. That was why DAP could not endorse Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the prime minister nominee even though he is qualified and younger and healthier than Dr Mahathir.

The repeated explanations also have to do with the fact that Dr Mahathir has become a sitting duck target for the Barisan side.

Barisan leaders have painted Pakatan's embrace of Dr Mahathir as the height of hypocrisy.

They point out that in 2013, DAP had asked the Chinese to accept PAS before throwing PAS aside and now they are using Dr Mahathir.

Umno leaders have also accused DAP of "Malay screw Malays". The term was popularised by Hew during the Sarawak state election to promote their Malay candidate as ideal in launching attacks against Umno.


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