|The March 8 general election one year ago was the
watershed for Malaysia politics as Malaysians used their votes to
express their dissatisfaction against the Barisan Nasional in their
eagerness for change.
For the first time, BN lost its two-third majority in Parliament and
five states had fallen into the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat's
hand, resulting in the appearance of a two-coalition system.
after the landmark general election, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad
Badawi said he had received the voters’ message and was committed for
However, how far has BN been reformed after one year? Were these
efforts enough to change negative perceptions on the coalition?
Based on the public perceptions as shown in the poll and the last two
by-elections, the answer is clearly no, and it is worsened by the
political and constitutional crisis in Perak recently.
According to Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
chief executive officer Tang Ah Chai's analysis: “Anwar controlled the
whole game by claiming there would be defection of BN MPs before Sept
16. BN was at a disadvantage and unable to initiate any reform.
"However, after Sept 16, BN finally feel less pressured, but their
reform plan was still not clear. They were concentrating on handling
internal crisis," he added.
Tang said although BN try to strike back through defections in Perak,
the coalition's high-handedness had made it more difficult to win back
the people’s support.
central committee member Loh Seng Kok also agreed that many people were
not happy wtih how the BN acted in the Perak crisis.
"The feedbacks I got were that the new government should be backed by
the people’s mandate," he said
"Some were also not happy with the fact that the police were
following the order of the administration officer. This made the officer
looked more powerful than the state assembly."
"If BN cannot handle it properly, it would hampered the coalition
more," he added.
However, Loh's view was only a minority among the BN leaders. Another
BN leader, Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, was also calling for
new state elections in Perak.
Ting: I also feel ashamed
There were also a lack of internal reform efforts within BN. Although
the coalition had set up four committees to initiate reform, there were
no substantial actions being taken after eight months.
was understood that one of them, the BN Rebranding Committee, chaired by
former Terengganu menteri besar Idris Jusoh, had not submitted any
A source said that the committee didn't have any routine meeting and
there is no enthusiasm to move forward.
"If you want to rebrand, than you should move quickly. If not, how
can you face the next general election? It looks like most leaders are
more interested in by-elections and party elections," he added.
The recent incident of DAP Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh being mobbed
by a group of angry Umno Youth members, also indicated that Umno had yet
to change their attitude.
Former MCA secretary-general Ting Chew Peh said the incident showed
Umno is not prepared to reform and the youth wing is still arrogant.
He warned that if BN continues their attitude, they will definitely
pay a bigger price in the next general election.
Ting, the former MP for Gopeng, also said Perakians are generally not
happy with BN government because they think that the Pakatan government
had performed well.
"I am a BN man, but I also feel ashamed," Ting added.