Frankly, I have counted a few top BN leaders as my friends. In person, they are humble, decent and can be quite engaging on various topics. One of them even agreed with my observation that the Perak power snatch is a short term victory. Won a battle but losing the war.
But there is one problem. Most of them have refused to speak up in the coalition or in public. Some even made public statements, which ran contrary to their own belief. Until and unless these leaders speak up and start to call a spade a spade, there is very little they can do to change the fate of BN.
Whether it is naivete or not, they should not hope for a one-man miracle to help restore the popularity of the coalition. Not when the man, himself, is not that popular. When the people start to wake to the fact that they can flex their muscle in a democratic system and choose the right government to represent them, they can bring down even the most autocratic and vicious government.
The right to choose must be protected and respected in a true democracy. On this same breath, I was critical of the power grab in Perak, called it illegal and undemocratic because a true democracy cannot be perverted by mere 3 individuals. Thousands of voices cannot be muted and ignored.
In a democracy, every citizen has the same rights and legal status promised under the constitution. The rights to live, to work, to be educated, to profess a religion, to mobility and to be protected and to seek justice. These rights are given the same to prime ministers, ministers, parliamentarians, royalty, rich or poor.
A ruling government in a democratic system must understand, respect and practice these democratic doctrines.
This is where BN problems lie. Its unwillingness to observe and respect the rights of its opponents and voters has created a strong negative perception of its ability to rule fairly. It is odd to hear calls within the coalition to change, repent and reinvent since its shocking electoral losses in the 12th general election and to find out that it has remained pretty much the same - an arrogant bully.
What has BN got to lose for being reasonable? What has it got to lose for being sensitive to the needs of this multiracial society? What has it got to lose for embracing change?
Nothing. Perhaps some members might not like it and want it to stay the same way, continue to practice race-centric, loud and aggressive, rule by law and corrupt politics. Then, being reasonable is actually good for the coalition. It can lose these members and retain those who are and can be reasonable.
Similarly, what can BN gain by being unreasonable? The coalition has plenty of examples here; using the draconian ISA against political dissidents and demonstrators, hurling threats against opponents, making racial slurs, using legal coercive forces illegally and others.
Not much. Some short term gains, perhaps. History has never been kind to oppressors e.g. Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and others.
Hence, component parties in BN should wake up to a new reality. No amount of party restructuring or reorganisation is going to help restore the coalition support level if they are not willing to tell UMNO leaders in the face to stop acting like these oppressors. Another problem is UMNO's thinking as a party and not as part of a multiracial coalition. Hence, it is willing to play both race and religious sentiments with impunity.
MCA should not grab on floating straws to keep itself afloat. Most Chinese Malaysian voters cannot digest the idea of voting for a MCA candidate if the party continue to stay at the periphery of Malaysian politics. How many Indian Malaysians can throw their support for MIC despite being fully aware that their community leaders, Hindraf 5, have remained behind bars without a possibility of fair trial?
How many right-minded UMNO leaders can do what Zaid Ibrahim did to defend the rule of law and individual liberty? How many UMNO leaders are willing to spare the same opportunities, privileges and rights to the poor in their own community despite claiming to champion their supremacy? How many Malay leaders are willing to risk condemnation for informing their own community that race supremacy is not skin deep but knowledge driven?
Some BN leaders may accuse me of being an instigator. No one likes to have his sweet dream bubble being pricked. Unfortunately, I like calling a spade a spade. They should stop cheering the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat and hoping to make a technical rebound. It will not happen. Politics has never been that easy. The break-up of Pakatan does not mean the end of opposition against their unreasonable rule. Afterall, didn't both Gagasan Rakyat and Barisan Alternatif went under?
BN should seriously consider being more reasonable. This looks like the only viable choice.