BN Minus MCA & Gerakan?

It is high time UMNO stopped subcontracting Chinese and Indian affairs to others. The way forward for UMNO is to establish Chinese Bureaus and Indian Bureaus within the party.

By Syed Akbar Ali

Our country was granted independence by the British on the agreement at that time that the three main races in the country would come together under a political power sharing formula. Then the granting of citizenship to over 1.0 million immigrants drastically changedthe demographics of the citizenry. The Malays were just slightly over 50% of the population. Multi racial political power sharing was a necessity to keep the peace and rule the nation.

The political power sharing formula saw the UMNO, MCA and MIC forming the Alliance Party on the Peninsula (later becoming the Barisan Nasional or BN). Not all agreed. The Pan – Malaya Islamic Association a component of UMNO, broke away to form the Pan Malaya Islamic Party (PMIP) or PAS.

In the first Federal Legislative Elections in 1955 the Alliance won 51 out of 52 seats. PAS won one seat in the largely Malay majority Krian in Perak. Throughout its history until 2008, the BN’s strength has always been in mixed constituencies. The PAS has been strong in predominantly Malay constituencies. The latter day DAP has had more success in predominantly Chinese areas.

Well the country has changed now. Demographically the Malays actually form over 70% of the 25 million population. By 2020 (11 years hence) the Malays will make up over 75% of the population. The idea of political power sharing will die a natural death – not by design. By 2050 Malays will easily make up over 85% of the population.

The absence of a politically overwhelming majority by any one race has been the glue that holds the BN together. It is not the other way around. Malays making up 70% of the population is a recent phenomenon. Despite this, the split in the Malay vote between UMNO and PAS and a more cohesive voting pattern among Chinese does not allow for a politically overwhelming majority by the Malays.

But eventually the evolving demographics will reduce the expediency for the Malays to depend on power sharing. The BN’s days, in its present form, are therefore numbered. If the PAS and UMNO were to unite on some platform, the demise of the BN may be expedited.

However the idea of multi racial politics and power sharing should not change, even when the Malays make up 75% or 80% of the population. We may need to tweak the party politics but the power sharing equation must still balance. What is important is multiracialism and power sharing among our many races, not the individual identities of the political parties.

There are now serious voices in the MCA questioning if the MCA should remain within BN. The Gerakan Youth recently broke ranks with its BN colleagues by supporting the misconstrued Anti-ISA march held in Kuala Lumpur. This is extreme political short sightedness on their part. Having said that I think if the fortunes of the BN do not improve significantly in the next General Elections due in three years, the MCA and Gerakan may decide to leave the BN. They should not be discouraged. It is their right to do so and UMNO must learn to live with that without getting too upset.