Rescinding consensus cements Umno’s hegemony over BN


Hazlan Zakaria, The Ant Daily

In one swoop, secretary-general Tengku Adnan Mansor’s proposal to abolish the Barisan Nasional’s consensus system and replace it with majority rule will officially cement Umno’s already near total stranglehold over the ruling coalition.

“It (officially) gives Umno the veto power in the BN,” noted political analyst Wong Chin Huat.

The Malay party is already the largest in BN and holds the most seats in Parliament among component parties, many made near irrelevant after mass defeats in the 2008 GE12 political tsunami and May’s GE13.

However, he believes that this is merely academic as the Malay party has always been the dominant one in the coalition and making all the decisions.

“Even in the past, consensus in BN has always been more form than substance,” Wong said.

He related that the only time the principle of consensus was really applied in BN’s decision making was when MIC was adamant that it must be the only Indian party in the BN.

However, other decisions were almost arbitrarily made by Umno, Wong said.

He noted that previously the BN had no decision-making body as its supreme council very rarely met while major decisions were made either in Umno supreme council meetings or in cabinet discussions.

Umno has often been accused of being the real power behind BN with the opposition labelling the coalition as ‘Umno-BN’, as most major decisions on national issues were announced after Umno supreme council meetings.

Even in cabinet, he said, the principle of collective responsibility made most cabinet post holders mere ‘yes men’ as almost none had the gumption to really pursue a point and quit their posts in disagreement on a matter of principle.

“There is only one minister that did that in recent memory. And that person is (Datuk) Zaid Ibrahim.”