posted by din merican–August 31, 2009
August 30, 2009
BN’s nemesis is BN itself
by Athi Shankar
Leadership crisis in component parties and other related problems were the main reasons behind Barisan Nasional’s consistent defeats in by-elections over the past year, said an academician. Social scientist Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said his study showed that the coalition could not break the by-election jinx because its own supporters have deserted it.
This was based on the results and patterns of voting for and against BN in the last seven by-elections in the Peninsular, he said.
“There are serious problems within all BN component parties which the leadership involved should address and rectify. It seems the main enemy for BN now is BN itself,” he said.
Due to this, he said BN’s members and supporters were either boycotting balloting or voting for Pakatan Rakyat to express their anger.
He cited the current crisis in MCA and PPP, previous one in UMNO and Gerakan, and perhaps soon in MIC would surely weaken the coalition.
He said the BN leadership currently seemed weak in handling and resolving such crises. “BN leadership at all levels can’t afford to be in a state of denial any longer. Or else this series of defeats would carry on until the next general election,” he said, adding that the BN leadership should now embark on a strategy to lure back their own disgruntled members and supporters.
Despite the leadership change in UMNO and the Federal Government, Sivamurugan pointed out that the people were still voting against BN. He said the coalition’s leadership should find out the reasons behind this downslide – on why the Malays were not backing BN and why non-Malays were inclined towards voting for Pakatan.
“BN should find out whether its newly hatched policies were understood by the people, whether information has been correctly disseminated to the people etc,” added the USM lecturer.
He said there was a feel-good political climate with the appointment of Najib Abdul Razak as the country’s sixth premier but this has yet to translate into votes.
“There could be a communication breakdown between the higher and lower BN leadership levels, which is a crucial link to reach out to the grassroots,” added the academician.
Sivamurugan said the country needed two strong and vibrant political blocks for democracy and civil liberty to prosper.
“But it looks bad currently because the electoral matches have been favouring one side for the past one year,” he added.
Of the seven by-elections held in the Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu and Bukit Gantang parliamentary seats, and Bukit Selambau, Penanti, Manek Urai and Permatang Pasir state constituencies, Pakatan won all.
BN had only won one in Batang Ai, Sarawak, which many critics considered as insignificant.
Conduct In-depth Study
Sivamurugan urged BN to conduct an in-depth nationwide study to accumulate information and grassroots’ feedback on the sentiments, demands and grouses of the people against the federal ruling coalition.
He said firstly BN would have to find out whether the people had voted against it because they were pro-Pakatan or anti-BN.
“If the votes were anti-BN, the coalition leaders have to acknowledge it and address the reasons for it immediately,” he said.
He said defeats in Permatang Pauh and Permatang Pasir were expected since both areas were Pakatan and PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim’s strongholds.
“But what about other areas?” he asked. “Except for Manek Urai, BN suffered massive loss of votes in other constituencies.”
Sivamurugan also slammed PKR for not being able to keep its group of elected representatives together and allowing too much of BN infiltration into the party.
He said the PKR leadership was duty-bound to ensure that these elected representatives don’t hop to another party because the electorates voted for a change in the last general election.
Three PKR state assemblypersons – two in Perak and one in Kedah, have opted out to become independent representatives. “PKR will have to check and stop this to avoid losing public confidence,” said the academician.