Gerakan And 1Malaysia At The Crossroads

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KUALA LUMPUR, OCT 18 – The suggestion, though might be made in jest, that the Malaysian government’s 1Malaysia campaign be given an urgent boost similar to using locally famed aphrodisiac root “Tongkat Ali” is apt, coming from a leader of a political party that propagates multi-culturalism.

Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong’s shining the light on 1Malaysia, a fading brand that drew criticism over alleged unfulfilled promises, is in line with “Menjulang 1Malaysia” (Uplifting 1Malaysia) theme of this year’s Gerakan Delegates Conference (NDC).

The 1Malaysia campaign promoted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was launched in September, 2010, calling for the Cabinet, government agencies and civil servants to strongly emphasize ethnic harmony, national unity and efficient governance, has lost its attractiveness.

It has fizzled out since the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) which Najib leads, lost more seats in GE13 than the previous national poll in 2008. The 1Malaysia website which Najib had previously used as his personal site has since been turned into a website for all Malaysians. The Prime Minister now has a new personal website NajibRazak.com.

“We thought that it (campaign) was moving strongly from 2012 to 2013… but after the general election in 2013, 1Malaysia seems to have slowed down a bit,” Mah, a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said when officiating the Gerakan’s Life Members’ Council Friday, ahead of the two-day NDC starting Saturday. But wait.

Mah’s own party also has a long way in trying to portray itself as a multi-racial party embodying the 1Malaysia spirit. Take a look down on who’s who in the party’s leadership current line-up; it is still dominated by the Chinese although more multiracial than previous line-ups, with its 1Malaysia VPs – Datuk Dr Asharuddin Ahmad, A Kohilan Pillay and Datuk Teo Kok Chee.

At the last NDC also where elections for top party positions were carried out, there were less than 5% and less than 1% Indians and Malays among the 2,000-odd delegates. Gerakan under Mah has also not moved much from where it was a year ago. The party had only became talking points of Malaysians during the Teluk Intan by-election which Mah contested and won and when he was appointed Minister two months later.

Two humiliating general election defeats behind, Gerakan certainly needs double shots of “Tongkat Ali” to remain relevant in political mainstream. In Penang where Gerakan’s stars used to shine so bright until 2008, the predominantly Chinese voters joked about the party’s relevance, likening it to a land of the living dead.

Left with a miserable one parliamentary seat and three state seats, Gerakan needs to fix itself real quick if it does not want to pull BN further down, at the next general election. The Chinese, including card carrying members of Gerakan and the party’s ally, continue to look up at the DAP to fight for their well-being even after BN spent tons of money and gave special attention to the community between 2008 and the May 5 general election.

They continue to look up at the DAP to fight for their well-being as to them, both Gerakan and MCA have yet to show they could stand against big-brother Umno, in fighting issues close to the hearts of the community. Until today, there is still no good reason for the predominantly Penang Chinese voters not to support the present state government.

They see Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as having little baggage and practising good governance, thus find no excuse to return support to BN. It is not that there are no issues arising since DAP took over control of Penang more than six years ago. But the pockets of dissatisfaction over mega development projects and state policies are weak push factors. Gerakan really needs to move.

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