Observers say Terengganu’s Chinese rep will have little sway

Diyana Ibrahim

Terengganu’s PAS-led government has two non-Muslim officers, and Terengganu Chinese Chamber of Commerce secretary Foo Eee Lin says there should also be a special representative for the local Chinese community. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, September 29, 2023.

POLITICAL groups and veterans said appointing a special representative for Terengganu’s Chinese community was not a good solution as the assemblyman would have limited influence.

Former MCA leader Toh Chin Yaw said the role would be narrow in scope and not bring much benefit to Terengganu’s Chinese community, and only serve certain people’s interests.

He said the power the assemblyman had would not be the same as that of elected representatives.

“We don’t know who this appointee is. What kind of support or how much influence does she or he have?” Toh asked.

Under Terengganu’s constitution, a special assemblyman can be appointed to represent certain groups. This was most recently seen when one was appointed after the 2018 general election.

Toh said the Chinese community needs representatives elected by the people.

“But it did not happen during the (2022) general election and the recent state elections, which saw no Chinese representative contesting a state seat.”

In the 2022 general election, Perikatan Nasional (PN) swept all parliamentary seats including Kuala Terengganu, which has the largest number of Chinese voters.

Chinese voters made up only about 3% of the state’s electorate.

Toh said there should be a representation system for all races to be involved in the state’s administration.

Former MCA leader Toh Chin Yaw says any special representative for the Terengganu Chinese community will have limited influence and not do much good. – MCA pic, September 29, 2023.

Improve state ties with Chinese residents

Terengganu Buddhist Association president Martin Tok said a special representative for the Chinese community must be appointed immediately to clarify the state government’s relationship with non-Muslims.

“The Chinese community in this state perceives the state government as not friendly towards non-Muslims.

“If the PN/PAS government wants to improve that perception, it needs to appoint a special assemblyman so a bond between the state government and the non-Muslim community can be forged.”

Tok said such perceptions came from policies considered unfriendly to non-Muslims, as well as policies that did not favour the community, like the rule “to close business premises and restaurants for two hours during Friday prayers in Terengganu”.

“Supermarkets are also closed for two hours, so people who want to buy goods have to wait as that is the state government’s policy.

“It is inconvenient for the people but the people have to accept it.

“They always give excuses… the policy only involves the Muslim Malays and other races are not involved, but the reality is not that,” he said.

Tok said the state government needed to work harder to reach all race groups.

He said despite understanding the objective of Terengganu PN’s administration in a Muslim-majority state, it needs to be fair to non-Muslims there.

“We understand its objective but it needs to be fair. There are policies that should not apply to non-Muslims.

“We live in a multiracial country and there are issues that need to be dealt with carefully.

“If there is unity, then our country will progress and be safe. Issues involving race must be dealt with maturely and policies must be open,” he said.

Terengganu Buddhist Association president Martin Tok says the state government needs to improve its ties with all race groups, including by relooking policies that inconvenience non-Muslims. – Facebook pic, September 29, 2023.

Be open to foreign investment policies

Terengganu Chinese Chamber of Commerce secretary Foo Eee Lin was in favour of a special representative for the state’s Chinese community.

She said it would help raise issues the Chinese people in the state face.

“We really hope a special assemblyman will be appointed. As it is now, Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar has two non-Muslim officers, but if there is an assemblyman (for the Chinese) it will be good,” she said.

Foo said the association’s stance was to prioritise the development of the state and the Chinese community over political matters.

She said the association met with Samsuri earlier this month to discuss the matter, and the group submitted a memorandum of 10 proposals to the menteri besar.

“We are confident we will see positive developments for Terengganu soon.

“It does not matter to us which side of the government (is in power). We will support it because we want to move forward. If we don’t support the state government, how are we going to move forward?” Foo asked.

She hoped the menteri besar would be more open to foreign investment policies, including those that could advance Terengganu’s industries and businesses. – September 29, 2023.

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