The following article is submitted to the editorial of MalaysiaGazette by reader, Wong Liong Kim.
Talk of the next general election is in the air. The just-concluded Barisan Nasional (BN) Convention gave a thumping “aye” for the polls to be held soon. One can’t blame the coalition for yearning for an early election. If the Malacca and Johor elections are any indication, voter sentiments has largely returned to the once-formidable bloc, and BN wants to strike while the iron is hot.
The decision to call for the polls rests with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in consultation with his party and BN partners. But I would think that going into the polls in the coalition’s current composition is not advantageous.
Let’s be honest: Over the years, especially after the devastating 2018 general election for BN, the coalition has been perceived as a Malay-centric bloc. UMNO has played big brother, with parties like MCA and MIC being meek followers.
Post-2018 polls, the coalition, which used to have more than 10 component parties, imploded, leaving it with four now, ie UMNO, MCA, MIC and PBRS. It’s a pale shadow of its former self, and worse, is perceived to be sliding towards right-wing Malay nationalism.
This image needs to change if the coalition were serious about going to the polls upholding the plural ideals our Founding Fathers subscribed to during Independence, through the Perikatan Nasional (PN) platform, the precursor to the current BN. Many voters, especially fence-sitters, are still not convinced that BN’s current formula is the way to go. This is more so among the young, who are more inclined towards multi-culturalism.
In the past, multi-racial parties like Gerakan and the Peoples’ Progressive Party and those in East Malaysia like PBS, SUPP and SPDP were integral in injecting the semblance of multi-culturalism in the Federal ruling coalition. Today, they have ditched BN.
To mitigate this, BN should consider co-opting Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) to fill this role. PBM is a new multi-racial party that doesn’t carry the kind of political baggage many of the more established ones do. It’s a breath of fresh air, not shackled by conventions.
This includes its six core pillars of multiracial engagement, women’s empowerment, youth empowerment, economic development, education and the advancement of science and technology.
And on that note, with the election presumably around the corner, the Prime Minister should consider retaining PBM’s latest high profile member, Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin in Cabinet. This will send the right signal that BN has left the door open for PBM’s entry, as part of the coalition’s rejuvenation exercise.
And with several PBM leaders being ex-senior leaders from the Opposition, the party can give Pakatan Harapan a run for their money in the next general election.
Wong Liong Kim
Editorial note: The views expressed are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysia Gazette.