A statement by Teh Chi-Chang, Executive Director of not-for-profit research institute REFSA (Research for Social Advancement), released on 24 April, 2013.

I have been asking Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters this question in recent days.

Their consistent answer has been, “What is the alternative?”  This goes all the way from lay supporters to the BN candidates themselves.  While doing my weekly marketing in SS2 on Sunday, I bumped into the BN candidate on her campaign rounds and asked her this very same, simple question.

“Why do you support Najib?” I asked.

“What is the alternative?” replied Ms Chew Hoong Ling, BN-MCA candidate for P.106 PJ Utara.

Firstly, notice how negative the answer is. When we choose to follow a leader, it should be because of positive traits that we admire. But the BN supporters that I have met appear too sheepish to attach positive qualities to their leader, (caretaker) prime minister Najib. For example, they have never said, “I support Najib as my leader because he is charismatic, energetic, fair, visionary, honest, capable, transformative ….”

Indeed, Najib is a leader who condones political violence and, perhaps worst of all, practises divisive, communal politics and deliberately manipulates economic figures to deceive Malaysians. Consider just 3 points:

1. Firstly, Najib has never denounced vicious attacks on Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders and workers, which have left PR supporters bloodied and hospitalised. Neither did he chasten BN supporters who chanted death threats to PR leader Tian Chua.

2. Secondly, Najib ordered that Tanda Putera, a film that his own Cabinet has said can “cause conflict”, be screened to exclusive Malay audiences such as FELDA settlers and university students. His slate of ‘winnable’ candidates includes characters like Zulkifli Nordin – Zulkifli has been hailed as a “transformation candidate”  despite just last month belittling Hindu beliefs and calling our Malaysian-Indian compatriots by a pejorative term.

3. “Live” on national television last month, Najib falsely declared that the economy grew by 49% from 2009-11. The reality is that, in real Ringgit terms, the economy has grown by less than 5% in each of the last two years. The so-called transformation led by PEMANDU is really a façade of Perception Manipulation and Deception, as REFSA has analysed and revealed.

Why do you support a leader who does not denounce political violence? Why do you support a leader who does not have the confidence to expel the extremist, thuggish members of his party? Why do you support a leader who rewards chauvinists like Zulkifli Nordin? Can you trust a leader who lies on something as basic as economic growth numbers?

“What is the alternative?”

It is true that Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim is a political chameleon who has changed political allegiances often in his colourful career. But Anwar at least chooses one colour at a time, unlike Najib who preaches 1Malaysia on one hand and picks ‘winnable candidates’ like Zulkifli Nordin with the other. Anwar is scrutinised by the mainstream media everyday, unlike Najib, who has not admitted that he misled Malaysians on economic growth numbers.

So dear BN supporters: the alternative, Anwar Ibrahim, is a leader who has his flaws. But he is a leader who leads with words and ideas, not violence; and a leader who leads with hope, not money, fear and lies. And most importantly, for all his flaws – real, perceived and manufactured – Anwar has never waved the keris around at political events during politically charged times, unlike UMNO leaders such as Hishamuddin Hussein, and, allegedly, Najib himself .

Teh Chi-Chang, Executive Director

[email protected]

24 April 2013

— About REFSA —

REFSA (Research for Social Advancement) is a not-for-profit research institute providing relevant and reliable information and analyses on social, economic and political issues affecting Malaysians with the aim of promoting open and constructive discussions that result in effective policies to address those issues. Topics REFSA has covered include the deployment of the national police force, the national Budget, procurement policy in the state of Penang, and the federal government’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).



[1] One recent example: Two men were attacked, and one was hospitalised in a coma after they attempted to stop others from putting up 1Malaysia flags on their gates. GE13: Polls violence victim out of coma, stable. Azril Anwar, 17 Apr 2013, www.fz.com.

[1] So said Selangor BN coordinator Mohd Zin. Reported in Mohd Zin: Zul Noordin a ‘transformation’ candidate. Kow Gah Chie, 16 Apr 2013, Malaysakini,

[1] For details, see NGOs, PKR demand action on MP for insult to Hindus. Koh Jun Lin and Susan Loone, 31 Mar 2013, Malaysiakini.

[1] Check out our infographic, Do you feel 50% richer? Available at http://refsa.org/focus-papers/infographics/do-you-feel-50-richer/

[1] The most audacious lie is PEMANDU claiming 100% credit for the construction of a 200mm wafer fab in Dec 2011 when in actual fact the company that was supposed to build and operate this RM1.9 b wafer fab was in the process of being declared insolvent. For more, search for “ETP’ at www.refsa.org.

[1] For more comparisons, please see Tale of the Tape #1: Najib vs Anwar. Available at http://refsa.org/focus-papers/infographics/tale-of-the-tape-1-najib-vs-anwar/

[1] In 1987, at a time when racial tensions were high, and just before the mass detention of anti-BN leaders under the Internal Security Act (ISA), then UMNO Youth leader Najib addressed a rally in Kampung Baru. Some accounts say he unsheathed a keris and uttered inflammatory remarks. Note that Najib has denied the remarks. See http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/najib-and-taib-an-arresting-couple/ for one version.

[Image source: malaysia-chronicle.com]

REFSA is an independent, not-for-profit research institute providing relevant and reliable information on social, economic and political issues affecting Malaysians with the aim of promoting open and constructive...

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