Forget about the old ways. Malaysians are no longer interested in the old Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan, Umno, PAS, PKR, DAP, and so on. GE14 was the writing on the wall. Bersatu sees this and it is rebranding and reinventing itself to meet the expectations and aspirations of the new generation of Malaysian voters. The others need to also follow suit or else they will get swept aside in GE15
When Azmin Ali announced that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia or Bersatu/PPBM was going to open up its membership to non-Malays, many were puzzled and some even perturbed. After all, it was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had announced that Bersatu was going to be a Malay party and the replacement or pengganti to Umno.
Umno is actually Umno Baru, meaning a replacement to the old Umno that was wound up in 1988 after 42 years in existence. Hence, in essence, Bersatu was going to be Umno Lebih Baru (after 30 years of Umno Baru).
So, we had 42 years of Umno, 30 years of Umno Baru, and now we have Bersatu or Umno Lebih Baru since the May 2018 general election (meaning 72 years of Umno “reincarnated” twice).
Whether you agree with that or not, at least it was an argument that people could follow. But now an Umno Lebih Baru that was not Malay but multi-racial? That sounded more like PKR Baru than Umno Lebih Baru. And is this what Azmin has in mind, for Bersatu to replace PKR rather than Umno?
And the fact that Azmin, and not Bersatu’s Secretary-General, Hamzah Zainudin, made that announcement was quite confusing. Azmin may be the de facto Deputy Prime Minister, but what was his position in the party? Is he the authorised spokesman for the party or for the party President? Shouldn’t official statements regarding policy matters come for official sources?
Anyway, putting aside the irregularities and confusion, the strategy seems to make sense. And looking at the following shows why.
About 93% of the Chinese voters and 63% of the Indian voters voted for Pakatan Harapan. Barisan Nasional won only 2.4% of the Chinese votes and 26% of the Indian votes.
Only 25.47% of the Malays voted for Pakatan Harapan while Barisan Nasional and PAS won 46.29% and 28.14% of the Malay votes respectively (or 74.43% in total).
That was for GE14 in May 2018. But those figures can never be repeated in GE15. The voters’ sentiments in May 2018 (or over the five years from 2013 to 2018) were different. How the people felt then and how they feel now, after 22 months of Pakatan Harapan rule, has changed. The Pakatan Harapan honeymoon is over.
The Bersatu of 2018 was relevant to 2018. It is not relevant now. The same for the Barisan Nasional, Umno and PAS of 2018. How the Malays felt about Umno and PAS in 2018 and how they feel about Umno and PAS now has also changed.
Hence all of them — Umno, PAS and Bersatu — need to reinvent themselves. And that is what Bersatu is doing — reinventing itself. And Umno and PAS need to follow suit if they wish to also remain relevant to the voters who are going to vote in the 15th general election or GE15.
Forget about the old ways. Malaysians are no longer interested in the old Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Harapan, Umno, PAS, PKR, DAP, and so on. GE14 was the writing on the wall. Bersatu sees this and it is rebranding and reinventing itself to meet the expectations and aspirations of the new generation of Malaysian voters. The others need to also follow suit or else they will get swept aside in GE15.