If BN does not seriously carry out reforms, the Kuala Terengganu by-election result would have an impact on the state elections of Sabah and Sarawak. If Pakatan Rakyat manages to get Sarawak's regime, it may trigger the wind of party switching.
By LIM SUE GOAN/ Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/ Sin Chew Daily
Opposition party Pas has successfully taken away the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat which was once belonged to BN, giving another blow to the morale of the ruling coalition. BN should not see it as just loosing a parliamentary seat, but to pragmatically analyse the voters' message instead.
The first thing to be reviewed by BN would be why they have lost more votes instead of regaining loss ground from the 8 March general elections? BN gained 32,562 votes in the general elections last year but it managed only 30,252 this time, with 1,310 votes less. BN won by 628 majority votes in the 2008 general elections but it was defeated by 2,631 votes in the by-election, losing 3259 votes. In the 2004 general elections, BN gained 30,994 votes, showing that they are getting declining support in Kuala Terengganu.
We have been stressing before that BN must show voters the signs of change or carry out reform plans in order to win the by-election. Only by this, they could attract voters who were supporting Pas to vote for BN. But today's situation is, some who were originally BN's supporters have switched to vote for Pas.
After the 8 March general elections, Umno continued with its racial politics. Malay newspapers also played up racial issues with biased view points. The defeat in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu by-elections showed that the people were no longer pleased by BN's racial politics and thoughts. It must change its course to restore the people's confidence.
If BN does not seriously carry out reforms, the Kuala Terengganu by-election result would have an impact on the state elections of Sabah and Sarawak. If Pakatan Rakyat manages to get Sarawak's regime, it may trigger the wind of party switching. BN is currently holding 30 parliamentary seats in Sarawak, if it loses the state regime, it would affect its federal regime.
Therefore, BN General Assembly scheduled for February would be its opportunity to get a re-start. BN should invite non-governmental organisations, intellectuals and academics to propose specific reform suggestions. The existing BN's so-called reform, which is putting political interest as the starting point, is not comprehensive.
Moreover, under the global financial tsunami threat, BN must pay attention to two points to avoid throwing itself into confusion again.
First of all, the BN government must do a good job in economy. It must immediately and accurately implement a stimulus package. It would be hard for it to defend its regime when the country is facing a recession.
Secondly, BN must perform better than Pakatan Rakyat, not only in terms of policies, but it must be more open-minded and liberal than the Opposition. If BN fails to do so, the people would be more assured to support Pakatan Rakyat.BN has again suffered a defeat in the recent by-election. But this is also a great chance for the ruling coalition to get a new start. BN is having the full right to decide its path.