Tough for Barisan, but ‘it’s not the end’

New Straits Times - - NEWS / NATION -

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Na­sional was dealt an­other blow when four of its com­po­nent par­ties in Sarawak left the coali­tion af­ter 45 years of union.

With the de­par­ture of Parti Pe­saka Bu­mi­put­era Ber­satu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Pro­gres­sive Demo­cratic Party (PDP) and Sarawak United Peo­ple’s Party (SUPP), BN is of­fi­cially dis­banded in the state.

From 133 par­lia­men­tary seats be­fore the 14th Gen­eral Elec­tion (GE14), to 79 seats on May 9, BN now has 57 seats na­tion­wide. Umno in Penin­su­lar Malaysia has 47 seats; Sabah Umno has seven; MIC, two; and MCA, one.

Just over a month ago, BN seemed like an un­de­feat­able force, but, now, its fu­ture looks bleak.

The ques­tion re­mains whether more com­po­nent par­ties will leave BN, or will the coali­tion be dis­solved.

In­de­pen­dent re­searcher Pro­fes­sor Dr An­drew Ae­ria be­lieves BN’s de­feat in GE14 does not mean the end for BN, “if they take mea­sures now to re­form the ailing coali­tion”.

He said MCA, MIC and Ger­akan had lost their bar­gain­ing power and even if they chose to stay, Umno would re­main the de­ci­sion maker.

“Many lead­ers in BN felt they were com­pro­mised by the 1Malaysia Devel­op­ment Bhd (1MDB) is­sue. But, I don’t think it is the end for BN.

“If they re­ally want to change, those re­main­ing party mem­bers and lead­ers who are less im­pli­cated in 1MDB should come to­gether to dis­cuss re­form­ing BN,” he said.

He said most BN mem­bers were in a state of be­wil­der­ment, but that the de­ci­sion on the coali­tion’s fu­ture would be clearer af­ter party elec­tions of the re­spec­tive com­po­nents were held.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Pro­fes­sor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, the re­main­ing lead­ers in the BN need to de­lib­er­ate on the coali­tion’s fu­ture.

He said he be­lieved BN would un­dergo a re­brand­ing ex­er­cise, but how far and how earnest the change would be re­mains to be seen.

He cau­tioned against mak­ing changes that would merely amount to “a snake shed­ding its skin”.

“It’s not im­pos­si­ble that BN would un­dergo re­brand­ing. But all this will be fu­tile if the po­lit­i­cal cul­ture it had prac­tised is not changed, and if their lead­er­ship struc­ture doesn’t change.”

He said al­though there was a pos­si­bil­ity that MCA, MIC and Ger­akan would leave the coali­tion, it was highly un­likely they would do so.

Pro­fes­sor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi

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