Posted: 02 Apr 2013 03:30 PM PDT
(fz.com) - Chinese associations are said to wield a lot of power in Klang and may sway voter behaviour in the coming 13th general election, say local level political party leaders.
"MCA exists through Chinese associations. That's why the role played by Chinese associations and businessmen are important because they have reaped the benefits from the government," said Klang Umno division chief Datuk Mazylnoor Abdul Latiff to fz.com.
"I give the Chinese associations and Chinese temple committees welfare," he added, citing the established practice of distributing aid at the local level.
Klang MP Charles Santiago, on the other hand, is unapologetic about his stance on patronage politics.
Rather, the former economist believes that political support should not depend on the distribution of money.
"I don't believe in paying people to support me. I don't believe I have to give you a token for you to support me," he said in an interview with fz.com.
However, Charles did lament about being caught in a system where race and politics are so deeply intertwined that they delineate communities.
"At the end of the day, I am an Indian operating in a predominantly Chinese area. It is difficult," he said.
"I don't belong to MCA, so I don't easily get their support. There is no reason they would seek me out but we do pick up on Chinese community issues like Chinese education," he added.
Charles is forthright about his convictions - he views social issues from a human rights perspective, rather than from a racial lens. However, there is no escaping the fact that meeting the people's needs requires resources.
"I have a limited budget, which makes it really difficult to help people," he said.
"But I'm always honest with them. If they come to see me and I know I have limited resources, I'll tell them I'll see what I can do," he added.
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