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Don't turn us into political fodder, say Chinese in Kelantan

They say they are happy with their lives in the state despite criticism from elsewhere.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
3 minute read
Pasar Khadijah, a landmark shopping haven in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, where businesses are controlled by women.
Pasar Khadijah, a landmark shopping haven in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, where businesses are controlled by women.

Some Chinese residents in Kelantan have objected to recent remarks by a DAP leader on PAS leadership in the country, saying they have never doubted their state administration despite claims by "outsiders". 

Perak DAP leader Nga Kor Ming had said that Malaysia could end up like Afghanistan with a Taliban government under PAS' administration.

"If PAS wins, everyone knows, our country will increasingly regress," he said.

"Kelantan has been under PAS rule for 31 years. It used to be rich, now it is the poorest state in Malaysia.

"Malaysia is not Afghanistan. We don't want the Taliban."

Retired auditor Mek Ning, who runs a lighting and furniture shop with her husband, said politicians who made such statements had likely never visited Kelantan to see how the people lived and conducted business in peace. 

"Let him come here and see how the Kelantanese do business," she said. 

"The jewellers near my shop here are all doing well. New stock comes in, and two days later it's all gone. What other state has goldsmiths who do such a roaring trade?

"What regression?" she added. "You can't force everyone to accept development. Over here, we prefer a moderate life, that's enough." 

Mek Ning, whose family has lived in Kota Bharu for more than three generations, added that she had never thought of leaving Kelantan despite the negative talk about the state. 

"I married a Chinese from Selangor," she said. "He was from the city. Until today, he prefers living here. 

"Business here is good. Whatever we sell, it all goes like hot cakes." 

She also rubbished talk of Kelantan being a backward state, saying it had everything from shopping malls to universities, and was a unique and affordable tourist location. 

"Why make Kelantan into another Kuala Lumpur?" she said.

"Kelantanese can just go to Kuala Lumpur. All three of my children are there now, but when they vote, they still come back to Kelantan." 

Chua, who runs a second-hand car business, said he and his family had never bought into the description of Kelantan as a backward and undeveloped state. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said he grew up in Kelantan never feeling himself less than anyone else. 

"I went to an Islamic kindergarten," he recalled. "My mother was a teacher and my father was a fruit picker. 

"I never had a babysitter. I just attended religious classes in the evening with the rest of my friends." 

In other states, he said, parents had to spend hundreds of ringgit each month on childminders. 

"Me, I sat there for free and was given my meals as well." 

Chua said criticism of Kelantan was only used as political capital to create dissatisfaction. In the end, he added, it was the people who became the victims. 

"We sit here peacefully eating budu with our friends and even then, we are accused of being backward," he said. 
"They should know that development and progress are two different things. The shops and houses in Kelantan, especially in Kota Bharu, are all occupied. Everywhere, people are buying or renting. 

"People are doing all sorts of business. In Kuala Lumpur, the news is full of reports of unoccupied premises. So who's really backward?"

As for the fact that Kelantan has no cinemas, Chua said this had been the case for more than 30 years. 

"We haven't gone crazy yet," he added. 

He said those who got to know Kelantan would understand why it is loved by its people despite the criticism from elsewhere. 

"You don't know it, so you don't love it," he said, adding that the Kelantanese should not be used to further political or personal agendas. 

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