By Voon Miaw Ping
KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 (Bernama) --Barisan Nasional (BN) was dealt another blow when four of its component parties in Sarawak decided on a divorce and leave the coalition after 45 years of bitter-sweet union.
With the departure of PBB, PRS, PDP and SUPP, BN is now officially disbanded in the state which was once regarded as a 'fixed deposit' for the coalition.
The latest development also sees the strength of the 13-member BN reduced to a mere four component parties, namely UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan while MyPPP is still half hearted and undecided on its status.
Sabah-based parties PBS, PBRS and LDP had also pulled out of the coalition while UPKO shifted its alliance from BN to the Warisan-led state government.
From 133 parliamentary seats before the 14th general election, to 79 seats on result night, May 9, BN now has 57 seats nationwide, with UMNO in Peninsular Malaysia owning the bulk of 47 seats; Sabah UMNO, seven; MIC, two; and MCA, one.
Just over a month ago, BN seemed like an undefeatable force, but now its future looks bleak.
The question remains on whether more component parties will leave BN or whether the coalition will be dissolved altogether.
Independent researcher Prof Dr Andrew Aeria believes the dramatic defeat in the last general election does not mean the end for BN, 'if they take measures now to reform the ailing coalition'.
He said at this point, MCA, MIC and Gerakan had lost all their bargaining power and even if they chose to stay, UMNO would remain the key decision maker in determining the future of BN.
"Many leaders in BN felt they were compromised by the 1MDB issue. But I don't think it is the end for BN as yet.
"To me, if they really want to change, those remaining party members and leaders who are less implicated in the 1MDB issue should come together now to discuss on reforming the BN," he told Bernama.
He said most BN members were still in a state of bewilderment but that the decision on the coalition's future would be clearer after party elections of the respective components are held by year end.
According to political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi, the remaining leaders in the BN need to deliberate on the coalition's future following the dramatic change in the political landscape post GE14.
He believes BN will undergo a rebranding exercise but how far and how earnest the change will be, remains to be seen.
He cautioned against making changes that would merely amount to 'a snake shedding its skin'.
"It's not impossible that BN would undergo a rebranding process including a name change. But all this will be futile if the political culture it had practised is not changed, if their leadership structure doesn't change," he said.
Awang Azman said although there was a possibility that MCA, MIC and Gerakan would follow in the footsteps of the Sarawak-based parties, it was highly unlikely they would do so.
"The reality is, MCA, MIC and Gerakan need UMNO for their survival because they can only win with the backing of UMNO Malay supporters and not the other way around.
"MCA and MIC also must accept the fact that they have been rejected by Malaysian voters," he told Bernama.