Should Umno and Pakatan Harapan team-up for the 15th general election?
The immediate, and simple, answer is yes. Remember how then prime minister Razak Hussein initiated political stability by convincing opposition parties such as Gerakan and the Peoples’ Progressive Party in 1974 to join the expanded Alliance which became known as Barisan Nasional (BN)?
That paved the way not just for political stability but also economic growth over the years.
In suggesting recently that PH tie up with Umno for the next general election, former minister Zaid Ibrahim said it would be the opposition’s surest path to election victory. Zaid is qualified to talk about this, I guess, because he was once in Umno and later in the DAP, which is a partner in PH.
This idea is not new as both Umno and PH have been toying over an alliance of some sort since Perikatan Nasional (PN) was formed and smaller party PPBM began lording over Umno.
If you remember, the DAP helped Umno topple PPBM’s Ahmad Faizal Azumu as menteri besar of Perak on Dec 4 and replace him with Umno’s Saarani Mohamad
PH’s then 24 assemblymen joined Umno’s 25 representatives in the 59-member house to oust Faizal, leaving the PPBM-led PN no choice but to agree to an Umno man taking over as menteri besar or risk an Umno-PH alliance in the state. That would have been catastrophic for PN and especially PPBM.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said during the move to oust Faizal that he was open to forming a government with any and all parties willing to work with Umno while Perak DAP chief Nga Kor Ming said his party was prepared to work with Umno to ensure political stability in the interest of the people.
Well, certainly such an understanding or coalition at the national level can improve their chances of taking over Putrajaya, provided, of course, the leaders can convince their respective grassroots of the benefits of such a tie-up.
The Umno-led BN and the PKR-led PH are the two largest political blocs in the nation and if they were to combine, there would be greater political stability. Theoretically, at least, that would be correct but in Malaysia’s race-religion dominant politics, theories easily go out the window. We all know what happened to PH of course.
But even if that were so, I think if Umno and PH were to team up, race relations in the country could improve. And good race-relations – unity – is the bedrock on which the nation can thrive.
This is because Umno identifies itself, and is identified, with the Malay population while the DAP, which is part of PH, is identified with the Chinese population.
Umno’s stated objective is to champion the rights and interests of Malays and Islam, although sometimes its leaders claim Umno also fights for the rights of all Malaysians. The DAP, technically a multiracial party, is made up mostly of Chinese members and is seen to be largely defending the rights of the Chinese community although it says it is fighting for the rights of all Malaysians.
Over the years, Umno and DAP have grown to see each other as their worst enemy. That is all right as far as politics is concerned. The problem is that in the convoluted, befuddled thinking of more than a few Malaysians, Umno has come to mean “the Malays” and DAP stands for “the Chinese”.
To quite a few in the opposition and the non-Malay public, Umno has come to represent a coterie of Malays working to enrich themselves and using race and religion to suppress the rights of the non-Malays while keeping the ordinary Malay subservient to their behests.
This is a weapon used by PH, especially the DAP, against Umno.
To quite a few in government and the Malay public, the DAP is a chauvinistic Chinese party which, if given leeway, would chop off the special rights and privileges Malays are enjoying.
This is a weapon used by Umno and certain Malay groups against the DAP.
Now, if Umno and the DAP in PH were to come together and work in tandem for the good of the nation, there would likely be a tendency to stop playing the race card, which means less likelihood of anyone spitting venom to arouse the emotions of their supporters and voters.
Over time, I believe race relations can improve, provided both work hard as a team and not indulge in backstabbing and quarrels. This is not to say that everything will be rosy, no, only that a foundation would be established upon which to build bridges.
There is currently a trust deficit between the races that make up Malaysia, especially in the peninsula, although few will admit to it in public. This distrust has been swelling in recent times. An Umno-PH alliance could arrest the drift, perhaps even reverse it.
Umno and PH have their respective strengths, and some capable leaders, so a combination would, theoretically, be good for Malaysia. With political stability established, economic growth is almost certain to follow.
By : A. Kathirasen – FMT
*This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of THE STRINGER