Two predominantly Chinese partners in Barisan Nasional have spoken out against Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over his remarks in Teluk Intan calling Chinese voters as ungrateful.
Gerakan and MCA said the home minister must clear the air over his statement or the ruling coalition would risk losing votes in the Teluk Intan by-election this Saturday.
Gerakan secretary-general Liang Teck Meng, saying he believed Zahid had no "racist intentions", expressed concerns that his remarks would affect support from the Chinese majority electorate to its president Datuk Mah Siew Keong, who is the BN candidate.
"It will definitely affect votes so he has to further clarify his statement.
"However, I believe he doesn't have any racist intentions. I believe all BN leaders do not have such intentions," Liang told The Malaysian Insider.
In Teluk Intan yesterday, Zahid, describing the Chinese community as wealthy but ungrateful for their success, said the Chinese would be happy if BN lost the by-election.
"I would feel sad if DAP won again in Teluk Intan. The Malays would be sad. The Indians would be even sadder.
"But the Chinese would be fine, because they have all sorts of businesses. But if it weren't for the Malays or Indians who buy goods from them, they wouldn't have any business.
"It is the Malays and the Indians who help Chinese businessmen. And when they vote, they choose DAP. They are ungrateful," Zahid told a Malay crowd during a ceramah in Durian Sebatang, Teluk Intan.
However, Liang said initial feedback from his members who were at the same function as Zahid said the speech was taken out of context and "spun" by the online media.
"I have informed Umno leaders to be careful with their speeches because sometimes, it might be spun in the social media," he said.
MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon said Zahid should not label any community as being ungrateful.
"As a minister, Zahid should not distinguish between the races. On the contrary, we must work for the development of all Malaysians, irrespective of race.
"Maybe he should explain further what he means," he said in a text message to The Malaysian Insider.
"When voters do not vote for us, surely there is something that we didn't do that led to such a situation," Chong said, adding that the focus must be BN's victory and the benefits the locals will enjoy.
Penang Gerakan Chief Teng Chang Yeow, meanwhile, condemned both Zahid and PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Saying Zahid's comments were uncalled for, Teng also urged DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud to respond to Anwar's remarks last night that Chinese voters who continue to vote for BN were stupid.
"That's the problem when leaders are calling for one thing, and doing another thing.
"They say they want to break the racial barrier, but when they come to campaign, asking for votes, they go along racial lines," Teng told a press conference at the Gerakan office in Teluk Intan.
He said Anwar's remarks went against Dyana and DAP's message of rejecting political racism.
"She says she wants to break the racial barrier. Where is the racial barrier now when one of their Pakatan leaders is making such remarks?"
Anwar told some 3,000 people last night that the Chinese who support BN despite anti-Chinese statements from BN leaders were stupid.
Teluk Intan has 60,349 voters, including 410 early voters and 12 absentee voters. 23,301 are Malay voters (38.6 %), 25,310 Chinese voters (41.9 %) and 11,468 Indian voters (19%).
The by-election was triggered after the death of DAP's Seah Leong Peng on May 1. - May 27, 2014.