Right-wingers are Racist Towards Him, The Left Calls Him an Elitist: Netizens React to British’s New PM Rishi Sunak

(source: REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska)

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:

Meanwhile, Twitter user @rahmahghazali simply observed the reaction from both sides:

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:

What do you think of Sunak being the UK’s new PM?