The combination of PH-BN-Borneo pact parties has the unprecedented opportunity to be the new, original coalition for all, like the early days of “Barisan Nasional” where it was truly a NATIONAL UNITY between the major ethnic groups.
The mutual need for party reforms provides this avenue for complementary and symbiotic relationship. The case is as follows:
1. Umno/BN is in dire need for serious internal soul searching and cleansing. Stage 4 cancer needs body-wide chemoteraphy and a serious lifestyle change. Removing several tumors (even key ones) now is too little too late in terminal stage. The cancerous culture has been spread too wide and too deep. Although this should’ve have come sooner, and that the grassroots should’ve rejected corrupt leaders and corrupt practices early on, its is better than never. Either they adhere to this wake-up call, or succumb to the fatal disease and be rejected by many to become completely irrelevant in the future. They can learn plenty from PKR on reforms and moderation.
2. PKR is in dire need to get traditional (rural and semi-urban) Malay votes. They can learn plenty from Umno on this.
3. PKR’s and Umno’s respective needs and weaknesses provide an opportunity for reforms on both sides to improve. A successful and close (believable) cooperation is a formidable force against the tide of PAS/Bersatu — a “theocentric- ethnocentric” alliance that can be combustive for multi racial nation. A reformed BN/Umno-PH/PKR pact can bring the true teachings of Islamic leadership, which teaches that that is no basis for accentuating the trend of ethnic polarization and divisive identity politics, capitalizing on race and religion. Simply put, racism isn’t supported by Islamic teachings. This will be a clear contrast to the brand than PN is selling.
Understand that the rise of PAS isn’t really because of PAS (at least not in their traditional East Coast strongholds) but due to two things: anti-Umno (anti-corruption) and anti-DAP sentiments. Thus, the observed anti-BN and anti-DAP sentiments. The rejection of Umno is only trumped by the rejection of DAP, being demonized as the bogey man for decades. The resulting outcome is a lack of choice, where PAS/Bersatu becomes the only avenue left for Malays (at least perception wise) against the well gerrymandered electorate for decades where 30% of the population determines 70% of the seats in the Parliament. Hence, unequal representation where a constituency with more than 100,000 voters has one rep in the Parliament while some constituency with less than 15,000 voters too have one representative in the Parliament.
Umno’s reform to be more clean and transparent, and to be more moderate, progressive and more open in their stance as a Malay-centric party would provide the first step for non-Malay-centric parties to “lower their guards”, and thus, also catalyzing others towards moderation.
In this case, DAP continues their role (as perceived by many) as the avenue to champion non-Malay rights and concerns, particularly for the Chinese and the Indians. However, they have much to learn from GE15 outcome, and must reform and communicate well, to be able to appeal to the majority of the Malays.
The mutual moderation of stances between DAP and Umno is a big start for national unity, not just racial unity.
The joint ideation and cooperation between reformed component parties in PH and BN is THE NEW NATIONAL BRAND. They are the only ones that can truly be the national entity for all, because PN is now clearly taken over Umno-BN’s brand (as perceived) as the Malay- supremacists group — an ethnocentric and theocratic entity.
This apparent organic “BRAND swap” allows the PH-BN-East Malaysia parties to be the new “Barisan Nasional” of old, during the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tan Cheng Lock and V.T. Sambanthan that demonstrated NATIONAL unity that is severely lacking in Malaysia’s current political landscape. With the support of East Malaysia, this can be a coalition that is truly for ALL.
Drop the senseless ego and selfish pride. Realize the golden opportunity that is upon us. This is the chance to put Malaysia back on the trajectory of peace and prosperity for ALL. For once let the mandate of people for better Malaysia win ! Not the backdoor, darkroom negotiation of the few!
(Dr. Rais Hussin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of EMIR Research, a think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.)