Friday, September 26, 2014

The way forward for the PM


The defeat of PAS in the Pengkalan Kubor by-election yesterday shows that PAS cannot go solo and without PKR and DAP it would not be able to become a political force in Malaysia.

And the same goes for PKR and DAP as well. On their own they would become insignificant other than merely playing the role of the opposition in parliament and all the state assemblies.

However, that is, unfortunately, also the case with Barisan Nasional.

Umno, on its own, will not be able to hold on to power. It needs its other partners in Barisan Nasional, especially those from Sabah and Sarawak considering that MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP are more or less spent forces, at least for now.

This puts to rest the fallacy that since 2008 Malaysia has finally seen the emergence of a two-party system. Malaysia does not have a two-party system. What it has is a two-coalition system.

But coalitions are messy and are no guarantee to lasting power. This is because a coalition is made up of many parties with differing ideologies, doctrines, aspirations and cultures.

Hence the different parties within that coalition could actually be working against one another. And this is very visible of late in the case of the Selangor MB crisis.

Pakatan Rakyat will need to focus on repairing its marriage over the next three years before the general election expected around 2018 or so. And so will Barisan Nasional if it does not want to see itself ousted from power.

The Prime Minister can no longer adopt an arms-length manner of running the country. He will have to identify around 165 parliament seats that Barisan Nasional has a good chance of winning and micro-manage these seats over these next three years.

Barisan Nasional should not waste its resources on those seats that will go to the opposition whatever you may do. Focus on just those 165 seats that Barisan Nasional can win and which will keep the ruling coalition in power.

Pakatan Rakyat’s problems are far from over even if it has resolved the Selangor MB crisis. In fact, its problems have just begun. So Barisan Nasional should take advantage of this by strengthening its public image, which is taking a beating due to attacks by Umno dissidents led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

You cannot please everyone. For sure you cannot please the opposition supporters or those dissidents in Umno. Hence you have to please those who can help you stay in power.

At the moment, until MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP recover their lost fortunes, it looks like Barisan Nasional will have to depend on Sabah and Sarawak to stay in power. Hence the Prime Minister needs to ensure that the voters in Sabah and Sarawak are happy.

There are some issues that the citizens of Sabah and Sarawak are unhappy about. These need to be addressed and are not really that difficult to address. All it needs is political will and micro-managing the expectations of Sabahans and Sarawakians.

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