From the results of the Kuala Terengganu by-elections results which saw the BN-Umno candidate being badly defeated by the Pakatan Rakyat’s PAS candidate on 17 January last week, which shows the BN coalition which is led by Umno is becoming irrelevant in the eyes of the people of today.
BN had won the parliamentary seat with a slim majority in last year’s general election and lost the seat last week with an increased lost of popularity. What happened then? We all know the factors behind the BN loss in the by-elections in Terengganu.
Umno, the dominant party in the BN coalition of 14 parties, has been suffering from infighting and factional rivalry ever since the present Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said took over from his former boss Datuk Idris Jusoh. Despite having made peace after the open tug-of-war last year for the Mentri Besar’s position, the two faction remain as rival in all divisions and branches in the state. Each faction is trying to outdo each other in the branches and divisional elections and they are now lobbying for the supreme council elections in Umno this coming March.
Intense fighting between these two factions continues, even though both Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his party deputy president cum president-elect Datuk Seri Najib Razak had called for a truce between these two factions in order to focus in the by-elections.
The actual fact is the Ahmad Said faction and Idris Jusoh faction accepted the truce call by their national leaders but continue their rivalries in their election campaign rounds where each faction is working to outdo each other in order to seek the attention of Najib, who is also the BN-Umno director of operations. No doubt that both Ahmad Said and Idris Jusoh are campaigning hard for the BN-Umno candidate but it is clear that these two leaders do not see eye to eye nor speaking to each other and so do their faction supporters who were looking each other as enemies rather than PAS.
The fact that the Umno factions in Terengganu has been overly split up and too uncooperative to an extend that the national leadership have to seek a helping hand from Umno leaders from as far as Sabah, Johor and Pahang to come over to campaign for the said candidate.
Apart from that Umno leaders seen by many as corrupt and untrustworthy were also roped in to campaign in the by-elections for BN, especially of those from Selangor, Perak, Penang and Kedah which proved to have damaged the BN-Umno machinery as a whole. Reminders were also made known to the voters over there of Umno’s rising extremism and its BN coalition partners like MCA, Gerakan, MIC and PPP as mere lackeys with no powers at all. The people there still remember how were these BN parties being treated by Umno previously and how Umno rised to extremism with couple of its leaders expressing the party’s racist policies in open which had in fact angered the Chinese and Indian communities as a whole.
Besides, the ongoing case in the court involving the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaaribuu had also caused some impact with the one of the two accused had testified in the hearing that he received instructions from Najib’s police ADC to “settle” Altantuya from a discharged accused political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.
With all these factional fightings and rivalries within Umno election machinery and the ongoing murder case which may involve Najib in the end, the BN-Umno did not seek to work out to prove all these allegation were wrong but merely cover them with their extensive old campaign slogans of denouncing and condemning the Pakatan Rakyat coalition as being unfit to govern the country and accused the DAP, PKR and PAS that they had lied to the people and so on.
From the Pakatan Rakyat side, we could see DAP, PKR and PAS were seem clashing on their views regarding the Islamic hudud laws but they managed to convince the people that this is the policy of Pakatan Rakyat that has to be proven in front of the people i.e. democracy, where every component party in the Pakatan Rakyat were of equal status with no one ever being dominant over the other. Therefore, with democracy actively alive in the Pakatan, these three parties were able to demonstrate that differences amongst them can be debated in public for the good, understanding and betterment of their relationship as a whole. In fact, when DAP and PAS were debating on the hudud issue, they even went to the ground to seek the people’s opinion and feedback.
BN as its has been clearly seen, with Umno as a dominant party over the other component parties like MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, etc. In the BN, they claimed that their “debates” were held close door and Umno plan and dictates the policies of the coalition from within the Umno supreme council itself. The BN component parties only need to receive, understand and accept the policies dictated by Umno as the policies of the BN in actually it only benefits Umno in the whole process. So, is there a democracy in the BN? People are watching the BN and how it works till today, the rest of its component parties are seems to be quiet and obedient prior to the general elections last year but has been too vocal only after they lost in the general elections. What is the use of being so vocal right now? Are they able to break up the Umno dominancy and monopoly if they continue to be vocal now? Is Umno going to listen and repent based on the criticism of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, etc?
So with the above situation, it shows that there are no practical democracy in the BN at all, which allows open debates, discussion and criticism amongst members of the coalition and to seek the people’s opinion on their differences.
We ask them now, will Umno reform? The answers is No. If Umno would not reform, so do the BN. And where to for its coalition partners like MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, etc? They have no choice but to stay on as lackeys and be obedient to their masters. Therefore, may BN rest in peace!