PETALING JAYA: A political scientist has warned that any exit by MCA and MIC from Barisan Nasional (BN) could further alienate the coalition from non-Malays and the people of Sabah and Sarawak, as Umno and Islamist party PAS formalise their alliance.
Andrew Aeria, who was previously attached to Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, said PAS and Umno were riding the wave of voter dissatisfaction due to Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) shift to pro-free market policies during a time of rising austerity and low wages despite its manifesto promises.
He said the two parties likely believed that the ethnic and religious divide would further benefit them at the polls.
This “shift”, he said, would only “alienate” non-Malays and those in East Malaysia as well as feed regionalist tendencies in Sabah and Sarawak.
“More so if MCA and MIC leave BN,” he added.
Party presidents Wee Ka Siong and SA Vigneswaran had threatened to quit the coalition over “racial” remarks by BN secretary-general Nazri Aziz on non-Muslims holding top posts in the country.
Universiti Utara Malaysia analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff said if MCA and MIC did indeed leave BN, the challenge for Umno and PAS would be to attract non-Malay support.
“Like it or not, they still need to appear to have the support of the non-Malays because Malay votes alone won’t be enough to win them power at the federal level, unless they can attract strong parties from Sabah and Sarawak to join them later on.”
He also questioned the prospects of MCA and MIC if they leave BN, saying they would not add any value to PH. The best they could do, he said, was to become a third force.
“But the reality of Malaysian politics is that a third force won’t be able to make much impact,” he said.
James Chin from the University of Tasmania said MCA and MIC were widely expected to exit BN. However, he said it was unlikely that Umno would agree to dissolve the coalition, as sought by its fellow components.
“I think Umno wants to keep BN since they know that the ‘dacing’ symbol is still widely recognised.
“MCA and MIC cannot force Umno to do anything since they are now mosquito parties.”
Universiti Malaya analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi meanwhile said the parties’ chances of retaining their parliamentary seats of Ayer Hitam and Tapah would be “razor thin” if they left BN.
He said both parties were reliant on Malay votes, which was reflected in the two seats.