Najib Losing Faith in his own Component Parties

Najib’s ruthless inclusiveness — The Malaysian Insider

Oct 10 — Perhaps today’s message was directed at the Malaysian Indian Congress but the Prime Minister’s declaration that he is willing to embrace political groups outside Barisan Nasional is the clearest signal that he has lost confidence in his component parties ability to recover their standing among the electorate — and deliver the resounding victory he craves.

For several months now, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has been troubled by the inability of the MIC, Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), Gerakan and PPP to rise above petty politics, reform and reconnect with constituents that rejected their candidates in Election 2008.

Privately, he has told friends that he needs to reach out to the Chinese and Indian communities directly and even work with non-governmental organizations and other political groups that are not affiliated with the BN but are open to supporting his policies.

The reason: he believes that he has under 18 months to win over Malaysians, and lay the foundation for a strong victory by BN in the next general elections.

And with the clock ticking, he has little time to baby-sit MCA, MIC and others who are in infighting mode, and wait for these political parties to regain credibility on the ground.

Many of the BN component parties have branches and divisions in name only, especially in states governed by Pakatan Rakyat. For example, MIC has 3,600 branches but only half are said to be active. The picture is as dismal for Gerakan.

Najib has already started by-passing the MIC and handling Indian issues through the Cabinet Committee on Indian Affairs and with the help of Indian NGOs.

Next on the list will be initiatives to reach out the indifferent Chinese electorate.

But what about the fortunes of the BN partners? Well, they will have to get used to the more inclusive approach announced by Najib today at the launch of the Makkal Sakti party.

MIC officials were displeased that he agreed to officiate at the launch of the new political party but he tossed aside their views.

In this regard, he has the support of Umno officials who feel that BN component parties cannot carry their weight any longer.

During the Umno retreat last week the general sentiment was that Umno should be more clinical in the allocation of seats for the next general elections, and should place its candidates in constituencies where over 55 per cent of the voters are Malays.

Umno strategists believe that with Najib’s interventionist approach and a more pragmatic approach to seat allocation, Umno/BN will be able to regain its two-thirds control of Parliament.

The mathematics is simple. A 10 per cent voter swing in the next general elections and Umno/Barisan Nasional will obtain 195 seats, up from the 139 it has today.

Political pundits and analysts note that a 10 per cent national swing is not an everyday occurrence in Malaysia, but it has happened.

BN’s share of the vote in 1995 was 65 per cent, and it slumped to 57 per cent in 1999.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi led a resurgence of sorts in 2004 when the coalition snared 64 per cent of the vote. Four years later, he presided over a major dip in support for BN, only 51 per cent.

The way Najib sees it, Umno is already in good shape and able to deliver the Malay vote.

But the weaker coalition partners are going to be a major drag on his ambition of leading BN to a resounding victory in the next general election.

He can either be nostalgic about the contributions of MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP to the BN or be ruthless.

Today’s announcement suggests that he has chosen the latter.

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