Just yesterday (25 Oct), Conservative Party leader Rishi Sunak became the United Kingdom’s third prime minister this year. Not only is he the youngest PM, Rishi, who is of Punjabi-Indian descent, is the first non-white person to hold the job – officially taking over from Liz Truss on Tuesday.
This might be surprising and relevant news, especially for Malaysians who have made the UK their kampung.
In fact, DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng wished the new PM congratulations and called it a “historical moment”. On Twitter, Lim said, “The best Deepavali gift to Hindus all over the world. May the Festival of Lights shine justice, goodness, competence and prosperity everywhere”.
However, it was met with hostility by netizens and even politicians alike.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) secretary-general A. Sivarajan pointed out that Sunak – who’s net worth is £730mil when combined with his wife, one of the UK’s wealthiest women – Akshata Murty, roughly double the estimated £300-350mil that King Charles III is worth – is considered a “gift, only to the British elite”.
Similarly, PSM deputy chairman S. Arulchelvan tweeted: “I don’t understand why Malaysian Indians get so excited if billionaire Rishi Sunak becomes PM. Same before with (US vice-president) Kamala Harris; our lives aren’t going to change here because of them.”
Apparently, many netizens also share the same sentiments. Take a look:
I don’t care for Tokenism. If the Tories think putting people of colour in positions of power is enough whilst oppressing the same people in an unjust system, I don’t celebrate that. Rishi Sunak is brown BoJo
— Arveent says Pilih Suara Marhaen! (@ASK_Liberasi) October 25, 2022
stop pretending that Rishi Sunak being Prime Minister is revolutionary for ethnic people, he’s a literal billionaire who is richer than the monarchy 😂 we don’t relate
this is how the country Girlboss’d Margaret Thatcher into taking away free milk for children
— Scully (@isthatscully) October 24, 2022
Rishi Sunak is proof to all little South Asian kids that if your parents send you to £46k pa Winchester College you become a banker and profit millions from financial crash that led to 300k dying from austerity and throw other POC under the bus you too can be PM. Inspirational 🥺
— marcus 🇧🇧🏳️🌈 (@marcusanddusty) October 23, 2022
Meanwhile, Twitter user @rahmahghazali simply observed the reaction from both sides:
Yang rakyat UK mahukan sekarang adalah pilihanraya, bukannya perdana menteri yang bersilih ganti dan dilantik melalui 100 orang MP. Menurut kajian YouGov, jika GE diadakan, Labour akan menang besar atau “landslide victory.”
— Rahmah Ghazali (@rahmahghazali) October 24, 2022
ICYMI, Sunak will be entering the PM’s office and will be facing a need to make deep public spending cuts to alleviate a fiscal crisis, as well as tackling a cost-of-living crunch, a winter of strikes and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
According to Malaysiakini, Sunak was born in Southampton in 1980 to Hindu parents of Punjabi-Indian descent, and repeatedly, during the last leadership campaign, spoke of helping his mum, who ran a pharmacy, with the books, doing payroll and accounts.
He had a privileged education, went to an elite fee-paying school and is the latest prime minister to have studied politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University, following David Cameron and his predecessor, Truss.
Meanwhile, take a look at what Trevor Noah from the Daily Show had to say:
Meet Rishi Sunak, Britain’s new PM who is only 42, meaning he’ll probably serve well into his 42-and-a-halves pic.twitter.com/I7fP8Ohi0j
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) October 25, 2022
What do you think of Sunak being the UK’s new PM?