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Nur Jazlan

  • "I don't even ask the Chinese to support me. All I wish is a fair treatment from them!"

Sin Chew Daily

It was 10.30 p.m. when I finally got to meet deputy home minister Nur Jazlan in Pulai, Johor.

"I started my day at eight in the morning and would finish normally around midnight."

He looked weary, but still put on a smiling face.

Pulai is his constituency. He had just finished a CNY open house event at Bukit Indah before rushing to my appointment.

Bukit Indah is a predominantly Chinese housing estate. Only 168 of the 6,000-odd Chinese voters, or under 3%, voted for him in the 2013 general elections.

The Chinese voters in Bukit Indah were not the only ones rejecting Nur Jazlan; most of the Chinese voters elsewhere in Pulai also voted for PAS' Salahuddin Ayub, not Nur Jazlan.

In the 2013 general elections, more than 80% of Chinese Malaysians voted for the opposition, although most Malays remained loyal to the BN.

In the end, Nur Jazlan still won the race in this mixed constituency where 48% of the voters were Malays, 41% Chinese and 10% Indians.

He won on the support of some 80% of Malay voters, but his majority was drastically slashed from 20,000 to only 3,000.

"There was a common vision within the Chinese community. They felt the opposition could help them realize this vision. So they voted for the opposition."

Most Umno candidates losing their elections because of the Chinese were instantly frustrated. They claimed they had done so much for the Chinese community and could not understand why these people "betrayed" them.

Even those who won were unhappy, trying to distance themselves from the Chinese in their respective constituencies.

Nur Jazlan was one of the very few exceptions.

"It was the overall trend at that time, not because they didn't like me.

"I could understand how they felt.

Those growing up from the 1960s have experienced two types of government policies. The bumis get their privileges but the Chinese are not treated equally in education, economy and culture.

"Their frustration is easily understandable. Such frustration has spanned two generations. How to expect them not to vote for the opposition?"

Probably because of such an explanation, Nur Jazlan strives to treat everyone in his constituency equally. Unfortunately, the Malay society can't understand this sometimes.

"For example, when I gave a Chinese temple RM30,000, the nearby surau asked for the same allocation after they learned about this.

"I told them their surau was normally used by only about a dozen of people, and they did not need the same allocation!"

In southern Johor, Nur Jazlan and the MP for Johor Bahru Shahrir Abdul Samad are among the most pro-Chinese Umno reps.

Before he was deputy home minister, Nur Jazlan was the PAC chairman known for his positive attitude in the committee's investigation of 1MDB.

Nur Jazlan would always tell his voters that his father was former Umno secretary-general and information minister Mohamed Rahmat, while his mother was a Chinese.

He would show off a couple of words in Chinese in front of a predominantly Chinese audience. Despite the poor pronunciation, he somehow manages to strike a chord with his listeners.

He has never given up the Chinese after the election. In its stead, he has put in more effort.

MPJBT councilor Er Siau Kheng, who was accompanying Nur Jazlan, said, "The housing estates with a high concentration of middle class Chinese are the hardest to go in.

"In the past, people would shut their doors seeing the BN candidates. They would even tell you to get lost or said really bad things."

But that does not stop Nur Jazlan and his team from visiting. He will still hold out his hand despite the rejection, and if the voters ask him a favor, he will do his best to help.

He will also make an effort to personally attend events organized by the local Chinese associations. In the event he is unable to attend, he will send a representative.

Slowly but surely, the community's attitude begins to shift. Sometimes, they will hold out their hands first when seeing him.

"I don't even ask them to support me. All I wish is a fair treatment from them.

"We need another 40 years to reverse the unfair policies implemented over the past 40 years.

"We can't wait any longer. We've got to start right now!"

I'm writing about Nur Jazlan not because of election but a query into what kind of future Malaysians want for this country.

The ethnic polarization that prevailed in the last general elections has further torn the Malaysian society apart.

Malay politicians on both sides of the divide must try to understand how their Chinese compatriots feel. Similarly, Chinese Malaysians must appraise the attitude and performance of Malay politicians more impartially.



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