[Versi Bahasa Melayu terdapat di bawah ‘Muzakarah UMNO dan PAS: Suatu ulasan dan Analisis’ bertarikh 5 Ogos 2008]
[Conclusion : The Barisan government should have no problem in gaining back at least half of the lost malay votes. After all this is all it needs, and that is translated into 22 more parliamentary seats, enough to govern with more than 2/3 majority!]
The the recent secret dialogue(muzakarah) between UMNO and Pas has been an important issue in the Malaysian Press lately. The fact that it was done in secret without the knowledge of their respective partners across the political divide, made it even sound more intriguing, and invited strong comments from certain quarters, especially the DAP,which even called for a review of the PAS position in Pakatan Rakyat. No one can blame DAP for suspecting a treachery in this case, as such a secret dialogue could lead to anything detrimental to the Pakatan cause.
To an ordinary Malay man, such an act by PAS is quite understandable since it cannot afford to ignore a widespread call for Malay unity, drummed up by UMNO and a large number of Malay NGOs. Being a Malay based party PAS cannot be seen as insensitive to such calls, or else it could pay dearly in the next general election. Yet, on the other hand, it is strange to expect a partner to desert the partnership, even how unnatural the marriage is, just after the wedding.
PAS is actually caught in a dilemma of its own recent past decision to join Pakatan Rakyat. We all know that Pakatan Rakyat is an unnatural marrriage of poltical parties of opposing ideology, whose only binding force is the sheer personality of Anwar Ibrahim, a political leader driven more by his personal ambition than anything else.
I guess, that was the best line of action that PAS could take under the existing circumstances. The proposal by Tok Guru Nik Aziz to merge UMNO and PAS was just a diversion to show the Malay public that PAS is as concern about Malay unity. I don’t think it was a sincere sugestion since he knew very well the larger party would never accept unity on the platform and conditions determined by the the smaller party.
For UMNO,the muzakarah or a political cooperatiion with PAS has mixed reception. The general view seems in favour of some kind of political cooperation, but any merger proposal would not be practical because of basic difference in ideology of both parties. The view by Tan Sri Muhyddin Yasin to first concentrate on UMNO unity appears to me more realistic. This is so because,the idea of dialogue or muzakarah arose out of the perceived weakness of UMNO, following a poor result in the recent general election. Ironically the same bad election result will place UMNO in a weak bargaining positon with PAS. So muzakarah may only be beneficial if it yields fair result to UMNO and PAS alike and if it ensures perpetuation of Malay/Bumiputera powers in the government.
The strongest point for UMNO to rally Malay support is to claim its position as the only political party championing Malay rights, while at the same time having good track record in looking after the interest of other races. PAS has no such record. It is only a minor partner in Pakatan Rakyat, worst still has largely diluted its principles in cooperating with DAP, a party known known for its stand against Malay rights and Dasar Ekonomi Baru, two basic principle held dearly by any Malay. PAS may argue that it also protects malay rights in a Pakatan government, but this is less than convincing, since the party is only a minor partner there. The Pas led Perak government and the Selangor government are test cases in point.
Current reforms undertaken by the BN government, though these look confusing today, will tilt public opinion in its favour once the people notice some positive results in the next few years. Most notable are measures to clean up the Judiciary, greater powers to the Anti Coruption Agency, and the impact of a more efficient allocation of government funds.
The single biggest factor that lead to the current political instability to the country is, no doubt, non other than the Anwar Ibrahim factor. He is the only one who could bring DAP and PAS together while at the same time, staged his own political come back through PKR, a party largely written off by BN people just before the last general election. His extraordinary abilities to notice and exploit opponent weaknesses, and quality as a master strategist, enabled him to take full advantage of the hindraf issues. After all,who ever thought that virtually all Indians who have been so loyal could turn against BN.
But the Indians have no more political card to play, they have apparently thrown all their cards against BN, since almost all their votes went to Pakatan Rakyat in the last election. My guess, the only choice for them is to come back to Barisan Nasional fold and bargain for a better treatment.
The current sodomy case will seal the fate of Pakatan Rakyat, should Anwar be charged and convicted.
Given the above political scenario, UMNO should give priority to stregthen itself and BN on its own steam. All that BN needs to do is to work a good strategy, which is already starting, to gain back Malay/Bumiputera support(including in Sarawak and Sabah), while at least maintaining whatever little support they had from non Bumiputra in the last election. In the last election BN lost 10 percent Malay support. I guess by continuing to fight for Malay/Bumiputera rights and push ahead with its reform program, the Barisan government should have no problem in gaining back at least half of the lost malay votes. After all this is all it needs, and that is translated into 22# more parliamentary seats, enough to govern with more than 2/3 majority!
Along with it will come along a few states, the state of Perak for sure.
Sekian, wassalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
Note# the 22 extra parliamentary seats is worked out based on regression model derived in my earlier article dated 10 May, 2008 titled: Malaysia’s General Election 2008: A comprehensive Analysis.