KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional is almost certain to retain power in the next general election expected to be held this year.
But even if the opposition wins in GE14, it will collapse within a few years, a report in The Diplomat predicts.
Two main reasons are given for this. One, civil servants who control the vast bureaucracy will likely stand in the way of the new, incoming coalition’s ability to govern. This is because many of them may continue to be loyal to Umno and the BN.
Two, the opposition coalition’s inability to agree much on policy will see inter-party struggles, resulting in a short-lived government.
The Diplomat drew a parallel to Japan where the Democratic Party wrested power from the longtime ruling Liberal Democrats but failed to govern, resulting in the LDP returning to power three years later.
The report quoted Suaram’s documentation and monitoring coordinator Chew Chuan Yang as saying: “If, say, somehow the opposition scrapes enough votes to win the next election… I think they will govern for about two years before they get literally, rioted out of office.”
However, there would still be a bright side to this, the report said, as people would know that the BN was not unbeatable.
“There’s a chance that people will know the government isn’t supreme, it can be changed, and it will be changed,” Chew was quoted as saying. “That kind of idea has to be implemented in Malaysian people’s hearts and minds.”
Such a scenario could lead, in future, to the formation of an idealogical opposition that could present concrete policy proposals, the report added.
Ideological, issue-focused political campaigns were something that Malaysia had, for the most part, never experienced, the report said.
The BN’s policies, it said, had been focused on patronage politics and the distribution of state money through affirmative action schemes that support its mostly rural Malay base, while the opposition was focused on calling for change and criticising the BN and Prime Minister Najib Razak for being corrupt.
The report said BN was stronger now than it was in 2013 and that the gerrymandered electoral system gave it a tremendous advantage.
In contrast, the opposition is more fragmented, and weaker than four years ago.
Suaram’s Chew was quoted as saying:“You… see the support for the opposition floundering because people know that they have no operational vision, no idea what they want to do. They say they want to stop corruption, but what’s their game plan? There’s none.”
The report also detailed several measures of the BN to entrench itself, including jailing opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and clamping down on dissent, including the media.
When the 1MDB scandal broke, The Diplomat report said, the government’s reaction was to clamp down even harder, shutting down any chance of an independent investigation, and harassing journalists or activists who spoke up.
Chew was quoted as saying: “If there is no change of government in the next election, like it or not, any chance of reform will be delayed for another 10 years And even then, 10 years is hoping that we are lucky.”
The report concluded that it would be hard to imagine what would force the BN out if even a scandal as big as 1MDB could not depose it. -FMT