After drubbing, BN’s Chinese parties to weigh unification

PETALING JAYA, July 22 ― The continued snub by the Chinese community they profess to represent is forcing Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Chinese-based parties of the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP to consider merger talks once they clear their respective internal polls.

During Election 2013, the three parties recorded their worst-ever electoral performance together with the larger BN coalition in what was initially described as a “Chinese tsunami”. While it has since been shown that the coalition’s results were not solely due to any single community, the abandonment of the three Chinese-based parties was abundantly clear.

According to press reports yesterday, Gerakan acting president Chang Ko Youn (picture) said he has broached the subject with his counterparts in the MCA and SUPP respectively, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Datuk Seri Peter Chin.

“But the decision will only be made once all the parties have elected their new leaders, which should be in October,” Chang was quoted as saying at a press conference.

“What is important now is for MCA to solve its internal issues; Gerakan, too. And to form a new party is not as easy as people think. It is not simply MCA joining Gerakan or vice-versa.

“We are different, so we must discuss this,” he added.

Since Election 2013, Gerakan has pushed for a unification of all BN parties into a single entity without regard to ethnicity, saying the coalition must abandon its current race-based politics if it is to survive future elections.

But the notion was shot down within BN, primarily by its lynchpin Umno ― which was the only party of the 13-member coalition that saw its position improve in the general election. The Malay party now holds the lion’s share ― 88 federal seats ― of the 133 that BN won, up from 79 in Election 2008.

Yesterday, Chang again pressed forward the idea of a unified BN and said all parties must consider opening up entry to all races.

Previously in June, Gerakan national speaker Tan Sri Dr Chin Fook Weng had talked up the possibility of a merger among BN parties, this time proposing that Umno, the MCA and Gerakan join forces.

“MCA can change to Malaysian Citizens Association instead of Malaysian Chinese Association or Umno can be United Malaysians National Organisation,” he said at a press conference in Penang on June 4.

But the proposal also went no further.

Yesterday, one analyst said the latest efforts to unify just the Chinese-based parties may be in vain.

“From the perspective of Chinese voters, however, it won’t make a difference because they have rejected the Chinese-based parties, which they perceive to be subservient to Umno,” Oh Ei Sun, a political observer, was quoted as saying by Singapore’s The Straits Times.

Oh also pooh-poohed the proposed merger, saying the complexity of dividing up assets and power among the leaders of the three parties were sufficient to jam up the process.

In Election 2013, Gerakan was nearly wiped out from Parliament, winning a single federal seat. The MCA also continued its slide from five years prior, managing only seven of the 37 constituencies it contested.

On Saturday, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced his intention to contest for the MCA presidency in December. On May 11, current MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had said he would not defend his position but would only quit between June and when the party holds its election at the end of the year.





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