Malaysians will know by tomorrow whether Najib has changed the character of consensus-based Barisan Nasional founded by his father Tun Razak 14 years ago into a coalition operating solely under the dictates of UMNO hegemony
Tomorrow, Friday, 24th March 2017, will be an important day in the political history of Malaysia for Malaysians will know whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has changed the character of consensus-based Barisan Nasional founded by his father Tun Razak 14 years ago in 1973 into a coalition operating solely under the dictates of UMNO hegemony.
Last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi announced that the government will take over PAS President Datuk Seri Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill in Parliament to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 or Act 355, but the MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other Sabah/Sarawak Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders claim that they knew nothing about it and never agreed to it.
There is no need at this stage to go into the merits or demerits of the bill, although there are attempts by irresponsible, divisive and destructive quarters to brand those who criticize or even oppose Hadi’s private member’s bill as anti-Islam, forgetting that the Sarawak Chief Minister, Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg (a Muslim) had upheld the stand of the previous Sarawak Chief Minister, Adenan Satem (another Muslim) and directed all the 25 Sarawak Barisan Nasional MPs (which included four Muslim Federal Ministers) to reject Hadi’s private member’s bill motion.
Has Najib changed the consensus character of Barisan Nasional, where everyone of the 13 Barisan Nasional component parties must give consent and agreement before a policy, measure or decision can be regarded as Barisan Nasional policy, measure or decision into one where the Barisan Nasional is only a coalition in name but accepts UMNO hegemony, where what UMNO leaders want and desire become the law in Barisan Nasional?
Has Barisan Nasional changed its character to an extent where the Deputy Transport Minister can publicly reprimand the political stand of the Transport Minister, just because the Deputy Transport Minister comes from UMNO while the Transport Minister is from MCA, although MCA President?
Barisan Nasional has undergone many changes since its establishment by Tun Razak in 1973.
Firstly, Barisan Nasional has lost two-thirds majority in Parliament in the last two general elections in 2008 and 2013, with the ruling coalition recording its worst ever election result in 2013 where it won only 47% of the popular vote. However, Najib could continue to cling on as Prime Minister, although as the first minority Prime Minister in Malaysian history, because of the unfair and undemocratic gerrymandering of constituencies which allow Barisan Nasional to win 60 per cent of the parliamentary seats with 47% of the popular vote.
Secondly, MCA is now no more the second largest political party with MPs in Parliament. In fact, from the ranking of parliamentary representation of BN parties in Parliament, the Sarawak and Sabah BN parties are more important than the peninsular parties of MCA, MIC and Gerakan. The following is the ranking of BN parties according to the number of MPs elected on May 5, 2013:
1. UMNO - 88
2. PBB - 14
3. MCA - 7
4. PRS - 6
5. SPDP - 4
6. PBS - 4
7. MIC - 4
8. UPKO 3
9. SUPP - 1
10. PBRS - 1
11.Gerakan - 1
Total - 133
Now, UMNO has 86 MPs with the sacking of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the resignation of Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal from UMNO, while Gerakan has two parliamentary seats as a result of the Teluk Intan by-election.
If the other 12 Barisan Nasional component parties have never agreed to the Barisan Nasional government takeover of Hadi’s private member’s bill motion in Parliament, in fact never agreed that Hadi’s private member’s bill motion should be given priority ahead of official government business to surface in Parliament to be debated and voted on, will the 15 non-UMNO Ministers at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow get Zahid to announce (i) that his announcement last Friday was only the stand of UMNO but not the 13-party Barisan Nasional; (ii) that UMNO respects and accepts the stand of the other 12 BN parties which opposed any BN government takeover of Hadi’s private members’ bill or giving priority to Hadi’s private member’s bill in Parliament for it to be debated and voted ahead of government official business.
UMNO’s takeover of Hadi’s private member’s bill in the name of Barisan Nasional, without consent or even discussion with the leaders and Ministers of the other 12 BN component parties, is a critical test case of the consensus character of the BN – which was the founding characteristic of the BN when formed by Tun Razak in 1973, with Razak, Tan Siew Sin, Sambanthan, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, and the Sabah and Sarawak BN leaders operating on the basis of consensus, just like the days of Alliance under Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun V. T. Sambantah where consensus and not UMNO hegemony was the basis of the coalition.
Let us see whether the three MCA Ministers, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Wee Ka Siong, Ong Kah Chaun, the Gerakan Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, the MIC Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, the Sabah non-UMNO Ministers, Maximus Ongkili, Wilfred Madius Tangau, Joseph Kurup and the Sarawak non-UMNO Ministers, Nancy Shukri, Fadillah Yusof, Wan Junaidi, Rohani Abdul Karim, Richard Riot Anak Jaem and Joseph Entulu Anak Belaun will succeed at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow to get Zahid to withdraw his statement that the government will adopt and move Hadi’s private member’s bill in Parliament and clarify that it is UMNO but not BN stand!