If a two-party system is a viable option, perhaps years later BN can also make its fairy tale comeback
GEORGE TOWN: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, whose shirt was crumpled due to hugs, took to the rostrum around midnight and urged everyone including the media to respect that he was going to make an informal announcement for once.
“It is off the record. Media, please respect this. But I need to utter this …
“Ladies and gentlemen, after some 61 years, we have finally won. I believe so … I believe so,” he said last Wednesday as his cracking hoarse voice was drowned by deafening cheers and applause inside a hotel in Penang.
Lim then rushed over to the international airport to take the last flight out to Petaling Jaya where he would join then prime minister-designate Dr Mahathir Mohamad in formally proclaiming that the Opposition has won federal power in the 14th general election.
It is now the era of Pakatan Harapan and no longer Barisan Nasional (BN) – many pundits were dumbfounded but more so, the BN leaders.
Several metres away from where Lim made his historic remark, workers had earlier finished clearing the drinks and snack wrappings at a makeshift Penang BN operational headquarters in Macalister Road.
By 10pm, the BN leaders bid their farewells after the coalition’s state chairperson Teng Chang Yeow announced he was quitting politics altogether.
The building turned pitch dark and the journalists were ushered out.
Teng was gracious and had refused to blame anyone else but himself for the devastating loss, which saw some BN candidates losing their deposits.
But these scenes could have been easily avoided if BN had accepted the message subtly sent in 2008 that Malaysia was now ready for a two-party system.
And if they had embraced the need for change, BN might have avoided the defeat, its first since the country gained independence.
Instead, they removed what they had perceived to be a weak leader in Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and replaced him with an upstart in Najib Razak, whose alleged reliance on the “cash is king” strategy has finally brought the BN to its knees.
BN nodded its head about the two-party system but did not want to subscribe to it then, said PKR strategic adviser Sim Tze Tzin.
Now, BN has to accept that it is in the Opposition, he added.
And now they have to learn how an Opposition behaves.
But it is not the end of the world – if a two-party system is a viable option in Malaysia then perhaps years later, BN can also make its fairy tale comeback.
All nationalist parties which were booted out made a comeback in their original or amended form – from the Congress in India to the Kuomintang in Taiwan.
And it is for this reason that MCA and Gerakan as well as MIC should not abandon their quest to serve the people in the name of nation building.
A two-party system means at any given time, either coalition, BN or Pakatan, can be the government of the day and the other, the Opposition of the day.
Pakatan’s win should be congratulated but BN’s 79 parliamentarians must also be accorded the best wishes to play their role as the Opposition.
They should also be applauded for respecting the views of the majority.
To do their job well, the Opposition should form a shadow cabinet and a shadow state executive council in each state. They should not hesitate to challenge every dubious decision, especially if it does not benefit the people.
Most importantly, they have to serve the people with all their heart and stop relying on money to win them votes.
In GE14, it was clear that people took the dough, yet voted for Pakatan.
It is safe to assume that the majority of BR1M recipients, some actually not entitled to the cash aid, cast their ballots for Pakatan.
Pakatan, like any other government in the world, is bound to commit mistakes and its weakness has been exposed in the past few days.
BN must be there to spot the flaws and shortcomings and correct them so that what democracy entails can be practised and absorbed here.
The vanquished monitor the conquerors – to keep them in check so their heads do not grow too big.
Why did BN remain in power for 61 years? It is likely because the Opposition did not play its role to the tilt.
It is now time for reform as the Father of Reform – Anwar Ibrahim – is now a free man.
As former MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik said: “The only constant thing in life is change.”
Let us hope that Malaysians from May 9 onward have changed for the better!