By Aathi Shankar
Many Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters strongly feel that the coalition MPs and state assemblymen are not doing a good job as an opposition front.
Some of the BN’s 40 MPs and 130 state assemblymen have only been sitting ducks warming their chairs while others seemed keen to “romance” with their PAS counterparts.
Overall, BN supporters perceived that the coalition elected representatives have failed to execute their duty as an effective and efficient opposition block.
After winning 79 federal seats in the 14th General Election (GE14), BN’s total now has shrunk to only 40 MPs, consisting Umno’s 38, and 1 each from MIC and MCA.
At the state legislative assembly, BN has total of 130 representatives, a drop by 13 from 143 constituencies won in GE14 held on May 9, 2018.
BN lawmakers have reduced largely due to defections and splits in Sabah and Sarawak.
Other parties in the 93-MP opposition block include 18 PAS MPs and 35 from native parties from Sabah and Sarawak, and the independents.
The Pakatan Harapan (PH) ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, has 129 parliamentary seats now, comprising 26 PPBM (thanks to defections by 13 Umno MPs), 42 DAP, 50 PKR and 11 Amanah.
Looking at the numbers of lawmakers in either side of the political divide, both the ruling coalition and opposition front are almost equal on political strength.
BN still looks strong by its numbers and seems to have better political leaders at least on paper.
But, besides Pekan MP Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Opposition Leader and Bera MP Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, Ketereh MP Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Air Hitam MP and MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong and a handful of others, most BN elected representatives have underperformed.
Many BN MPs have failed to perform as a collective, constructive and cohesive opposition unit for the past 15 months.
Some Umno MPs, notably Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein of Sembrong, Johor, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz of Padang Renggas, Perak and Khairy Jamaluddin of Rembau, Negeri Sembilan, are even perceived as de facto PH MPs.
They are presumed to be working with PH to break up Umno, rather than working closely with BN leadership to strengthen the coalition.
Hishammuddin has declared support for Mahathir to continue as premier.
Khairy has appealed to Umno members to consider dissolving Umno and joining Mahathir’s PPBM en bloc.
In other words, Khairy was equating Umno with PPBM, so he did not mind PPBM swallowing his own party and its multi-billion ringgit assets.
Khairy and Nazri have frequently criticised former Prime Minister Najib, more than scrutinising and ridiculing the many regressive and chronic policies of current Premier Mahathir.
Nazri even declared that he was lobbying MPs to back PKR president Datuk Anwar Ibrahim to become Malaysia’s 8th Prime Minister (PM8).
Hardly any BN elected representative has spoken out against PH’s blatant abuse of power and misuse of the law to press trumped-up charges against the likes of Najib.
BN reps seem more interested in talking about “who should be the prime minister” rather than on people-orientated policies, the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.
It’s a shame to see BN MPs dealing and wheeling with certain Pakatan leaders on who should be the prime minister and what not!
Is that the job of BN MPs?
Given BN was knocked off its perch in GE14, its MPs have been mandated to carry out as a professional political task as opposition representatives.
They are supposed to scrutinise PH government and its socio-economic policies, and air constructive criticisms on the behalf of the lay public regardless who was the prime minister.
Who PH appoints as prime minister is immaterial to BN’s paramount interest.
BN’s mission is to strategise the downfall of the corrupted and manipulating PH government in GE15, not to become a bogus kingmaker in the game of thrones.
BN must be re-branded, reinvented and reinvigorated.
The BN MPs should execute their task effectively as a collective unit to repair and refurbish the tarnished reputation of the ex-ruling coalition.
They should work harder to reach out to the people in all nooks and corners of the country to regain lost electorate grounds.
BN must bounce back in style.
Thus, BN MPs performance as a progressive and constructive opposition counts.
Of course, it will be a politically correct move to work with PAS, but that is not all.
BN MPs should constantly and consistently air lay Malaysian public grievances and grouses both in and outside Parliament.
Political observers concurred that a strong anti-PH undercurrent wave was sweeping across the country now.
“PH popularity among people has nosedived and the coalition is now suffering from a massive trust deficit,” said an observer Shamsul Hussein.
PH has found it hard to regain the lost public confidence.
BN MPs should step their performance to capitalise this anti-government sentiment.
Instead, some MPs are seen either sleeping on their job or trying to make a deal with the other side for own selfish political gains.
BN should revive its 1Malaysia concept to promote and market the coalition as a centric political entity catering for needs and demands of all ethnic and religious groups.
BN should reach out and engage Malays, Chinese, Tamils, Indians, natives from Sabah and Sarawak, Orang Asal together under Najib’s 1Malaysia concept.
In the long run, Najib’s 1Malaysia concept would be the perfect policy to foster national unity that we all crave for.
BN must be promoted and marketed as a centric political coalition.
“More efforts must be done through social media, house-to-house, taxi drivers and vegetable sellers to bring back non-Malays to BN’s fold,” suggested Shamsul.
He also suggested that BN should rope in teachers and other professionals to accomplish this mission.
BN MPs cannot be resting on their laurels and expecting Malaysians to vote them back to power without inspiring them to do so.
BN MPs must lead the lay public to trigger a change of government in GE15.
They can’t just depend on a political collaboration with PAS and hope for a windfall in GE15.
BN MPs must stand up and be counted.
They must step up their performance.
They must reach out to the people, especially the non-Malays.