Why PN should ditch Gerakan before the state elections
As MCA and MIC are unlikely to field candidates in the state polls under the BN banner owing to the unity government’s seat-allocation principle of prioritising incumbents, PN should just open its doors to them – and give Gerakan the boot.
Parti Gerakan Rakat Malaysia president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau has just announced that he will stand in Penang during the upcoming elections there. His party will want to harvest the discontent with the unity government and hope to turn around its fortunes ever since losing control of the Penang government in 2008.
As we know, Chinese-dominated Gerakan is the only “multi-racial” party in Perikatan Nasional (PN), which also comprise of Bersatu and PAS. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Gerakan’s presence in PN is only a form of tokenism, or “window dressing” to lend a facade of multi-culturalism in the coalition.
But for a political coalition to come across as credible in Malaysia, it needs to go beyond having “hanger-on” parties like Gerakan. Ideally, PN needs a party that is treated as equals to be able to capture the imagination of the populace. Gerakan fails miserably on that score.
Unlike its former ally in Barisan Nasional, the MCA, Gerakan does not even have any elected representatives whether in Parliament or the State level. On that score, it is not taken seriously and suffers from the “rejected party” baggage.
It doesn’t help that by all accounts, Lau is a weak leader who inherited the party because his predecessors all could not return Gerakan to the glorious days under the leaderships of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu and Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik.
Under his leadership, even party members do not know what Gerakan stands for, let alone the voters it is vying for support from. There has been little to no pronouncements about the party’s vision and how to get there.
If anything, Lau is perceived to be more concerned about personal preservation. He was made a Senator soon after the Malacca State elections in 2021 although his party’s candidates were all decimated in the polls. This became a bone of contention not just within the party but outside as state leaders in Bersatu and PAS both took responsibility for their poor showing in the polls. But the Gerakan leader was “rewarded” despite the electoral setback.
If PN is serious about being taken seriously as a coalition, it should ditch Gerakan in favour of parties like the MCA and MIC. For all their weaknesses, the latter two parties are represented in the Dewan Rakyat and state assembly. They also have better ground machineries nationwide, compared with Gerakan’s whose sphere of influence is limited to Penang and pockets of areas in the West coast of the Peninsula.
As MCA and MIC are unlikely to field candidates in the state polls under the BN banner owing to the unity government’s seat-allocation principle of prioritising incumbents, PN should just open its doors to them – and give Gerakan the boot. After all, both parties are more credible than Gerakan. Both also have been sidelined from the Federal Cabinet and marginalised by Umno which has found a new love interests in the DAP. This should incentivise both parties to ditch the BN.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and MIC’s sole MP from Tapah, Datuk M. Saravanan are way more robust and dynamic than Lau. Both speak Malay with no communal accent and are popular among Malays, unlike Lau who still has problems shedding his “Chinese-ness” when speaking.
If MCA and MIC were to stand under the PN banner in the state elections, they definitely stand a better chance than Gerakan. At the very least, they will be able to do a better job diluting PN’s Malay-Muslim-centricness than Gerakan which has been reduced to being a political ornament.