A ‘stable’ bus

KUALA LUMPUR, 10 February : The “most stable” bus is here, and there’s a panda on it! Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) has followed in the footsteps of Pakatan Rakyat parties by coming up with its own mobile vehicle cum stage to be used in the upcoming general election.

Unveiled today at MCA’s open house in Bandar Tun Razak, the double decker “People’s Stability Bus” is painted in the dark blue shade associated with BN and bears the towering likeness of Prime Minister Najib Razak and MCA President Chua Soi Lek on it. The bus body bears the slogan “stability above chaos” featured prominently in three languages together with the BN logo.

News portal Malaysiakini quoted MCA President Chua Soi Lek as saying “The bus represents stability. Those who follow the bus support Malaysia’s stability.”

The words in mandarin are “(we) want stability, no chaos”,  a more direct plea to voters in line with the tune that MCA has been singing publicly. Spurned by voters after colossal losses in the 2008 general election and further tarnished by the PKFZ scandal involving its disgraced former leaders, MCA’s response has been not been one of humility and reform.

Instead, the Chinese party has embarked on a media campaign to demonise the opposition and civil society movements such as Bersih as “trouble-makers” bent to create instability and chaos. UMNO leaders have also chimed in, warning that the opposition will resort to violence if they lose in the election. Hence MCA’s emphasis on the “stability” message with its campaign bus.

No ‘panda’monium

Also depicted on the bus is a panda with a heart shape and ‘1Malaysia’ logo on its chest. Is MCA seeking to boost its waning popularity by introducing a mascot which, judging from its plummeting public approval ratings, is likely to be more popular than any MCA leader?

In June last year, it was announced that China will loan two pandas to Malaysia for ten years as a gesture to mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral ties between the two nations. A nationwide contest to name the pandas has been mooted.

MCA ratings slipping

Recent polls by pollster Merdeka Centre have showed that among declining support for Prime Minister Najib Razak, the dip has been sharpest among the Chinese demographic. The latest January 2013 poll indicated that only 34 per cent of Chinese were satisfied with the Prime Minister’s performance.

The trend clearly troubles Najib, who has been working overtime to please the hardest critics ahead of upcoming elections, widely expected to be called after the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Besides a radio ad together with his son Nor Ashman talking about the meaning of their names and Chinese New Year wishes, Najib also appears in a video clip where he is seen playing drums while donning Chinese traditional costume. The video was posted in Facebook format, which does not have a “dislike” function.

The attempts garnered reviews, with some netizens mocking the PM’s efforts, while memes offering alternate endings to the video have surfaced in cyberspace.

Banners with the PM’s face and new year wishes have been liberally hung (without permits) in chinese-majority areas, particularly in the Pakatan-held states of Selangor and Penang. On the first day of the lunar new year, Penangites awoke to see numerous BN banners adorning the island’s expressway.

Meanwhile, some voters complained about receiving unsolicited cards from the prime minister with their voting constituency information and not so subtle voting pitch. Others received goodie bags with ang pow packets bearing Najib’s image below the words “the year of the snake”.

In a survey by University Malaya Center for Democracy and Elections (UMCEDEL), respondents were asked who they preferred as Prime Minister. In response, 61 per cent of Chinese respondents picked Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, while only 35 per cent chose Najib. -The Rocket


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