KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition should take heed of United States President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign strategy, said Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz.
Datuk Seri Nazri said Trump won the US elections last year because Americans were tired of leaders who were constantly harping on national issues, rather than focusing on bread and butter issues that were of concern to the people.
"The local communities wanted to be noticed and they wanted the government to work for them," said Nazri, who is also a member of the Supreme Council of Umno - the BN's largest party.
"People are not interested in national issues. Instead, they want a government that works for them," he said in an interview with The Star.
"That's why Trump won, because Americans are just fed up with their past presidents who seem to be very intellectual but don't go down to the ground," he added,
He said Barisan must focus on what it has always done best, which is working for the people and to continue the struggle for a united Malaysia.
"We are known to be a coalition of parties that work for the rakyat (people). This is important and we must continue doing this.
"Every MP (Member of Parliament) must see himself as a person, not as a Yang Berhormat (YB)," he said. Yang Berhormat, which means "the honourable", is a term typically used for elected representatives.
"MPs must present themselves as someone who can help the community," he added.
While acknowledging that the BN is a coalition of mostly race-based parties, Nazri said that it was important to always emphasise that Malaysia is a country for everyone regardless of race, religion or creed.
"Although each party represents their own racial group, Barisan is a government that is working for every Malaysian," he said. "We must show that Malaysia is for all and nobody should be left behind. We must not lose sight of our struggle for a united Malaysia. That is very important," he told the paper.
Nazri added that the failure of the BN to address certain issues in the past had given the Opposition the opportunity to use it to their advantage.
"For example, when an Indian temple was destroyed in Selangor and it wasn't addressed properly, certain sections of the Malaysian community felt disenfranchised," he said.
"So, where do they go? In short, anybody who is willing to take up their issues will get their support and that's what happened in the general election in 2008," he said.
Indians in Selangor, Penang and Perak had overwhelmingly backed the opposition over the incident in which a 100-year-old temple in Shah Alam was demolished on the eve of Deepavali in 2007.
The 2008 polls was the turning point for the BN. It won just 51 per cent of the votes and 63 per cent of parliamentary seats, making it the first time it had lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament since 1969.
"To win the election, we must win back the confidence of the rakyat. They must know that we are working for them and that we are working towards a united Malaysia," Nazri said.