KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional (BN) will still likely be led by a Malay even if it is turned into a single political party due to support from the Malay-majority membership, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has said.
“Logically, looking at the structure of society, logically it’s difficult for whoever wants to run the party to be non-Bumiputera,” Tengku Adnan told The Malaysian Insider on Monday.
“Maybe we can have one president, two or three deputy presidents. These are the things that we’re ironing out,” he added.
Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak said on Sunday that the ruling coalition must adapt to changes in the political landscape to remain relevant, stressing that its previous strategy would not necessarily be a “suitable recipe for the future”.
Gerakan acting president Datuk Chang Ko Youn said last Wednesday that BN should merge into a single multi-racial party to gain support from the youth and urban electorate, pointing out that urbanites had voted across racial lines in the May 5 general election.
“We can no longer rely on race-based parties. It is getting out of fashion,” Chang was quoted as saying by The Star Online.
BN won just 133 out of 222 federal seats in Election 2013, down from 140 in Election 2008, as urban and middle-class voters deserted the coalition, allowing Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to win the popular vote and to retain Selangor and Penang, the two most industrialised states in Malaysia.
The last time that BN lost the popular vote was in 1969 when it contested as the Alliance party then that comprised race-based parties Umno, the MCA and MIC, representing the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities respectively in the Malay-majority country.
Umno founder Datuk Onn Jaafar had called in 1951 for the party’s membership to be opened to all Malaysians and for Umno to be renamed “United Malayan National Organisation” in a bid to end racial politics.
Umno members, however, largely rejected Onn’s proposal and he subsequently resigned as party president. The Alliance party was later formed in 1952.
MIC strategic director S. Vell Paari said yesterday that it was time to move away from racial segregation and inequality.
“Gone are the days of communal politics,” Vell Paari told The Malaysian Insider.
“Maybe it’s time to increase the number of deputy prime ministers — maybe give one to Sabah, one for Indians, one for the Chinese. Most of BN’s top positions are dominated by one party,” he added, referring to Umno.
The BN chairman and deputy chairman, Najib and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who are also the prime minister and deputy prime minister, come from Umno.
Vell Paari said a single BN party would ensure that no community was left behind in the country’s development, but stressed that all communities needed to have an equal say in the party, instead of the current “big brother, small brother syndrome”.
When asked if a non-Malay could head the BN party or become prime minister, he said: “In another 15 years, who knows?”
“Nobody thought that an African-American would be the president of America,” said Vell Paari, referring to Barack Obama.
MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said it was “high time to explore the possibility” of a single multiracial BN party, but noted that Malaysians still largely thought in racial terms.
“You must have a core ideology when you want to mix all races together. By all means, do it. Whether you can have an ultimate 100 per cent non-racial thinking, that I’m not very sure,” Wee said.
“You may call it a Malaysian problem,” he said. - theborneopost