Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) has been established for one year now.
Has it grown up yet? Is it strong enough now to face the general elections? Can it bring on a Malay political tsunami?
Or, is it just a bubble that is not going to do anything big, waiting just for the right time to burst?
There will not be any answer until the ballot boxes are opened and the votes are counted. But, that does not stop us from making near-distance observations.
Last weekend, the party held its first anniversary celebration in Muar.
The choice of venue is understandable. Muar is president Muhyiddin’s hometown and his political “home ground”.
Muhyiddin was born and raised in Muar. His father was a religious cleric respected in the Malay community, and the family had extensive connections there.
Although he later moved over to nearby Pagoh and won a seat there, he took very good care of his hometown when he later became MB, minister, and DPM.
It has been rumored that he will run in Muar — which has a significantly larger Chinese population than Pagoh — in the next GE. And this underlines Muar’s importance to PPBM.
The party chose to celebrate its first anniversary in Muar, and Mahathir and Mukhriz had earlier through the grassroots and social media urged the public to make a trip to Muar to support the party.
A stage and tents were put up in the middle of the town square, and a full-day program had been planned: cooking class, health talk, drawing contest, cultural show, mini soccer game, motorcycle decoration contest, etc., trying to woo the old and young and everyone in between.
But, there were only about two to three hundred attendants throughout the morning, including the staff and party members.
My observant friend said, “These activities were similar to those of Umno. A ‘copy and paste’ thing.”
The only difference was perhaps the name of party.
By comparison, nevertheless, Umno is way more powerful in organizing and mobilizing people. PPBM is nowhere near that.
At three in the afternoon, Muhyiddin and Mukhriz arrived. The MC tried to bring up the atmosphere as he chanted the party’s slogan. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much rapport from the participants.
When Muhyiddin walked around to greet the participants, there wasn’t much excitement in the crowd, and few would bother to take the initiative to talk to him when he was left alone.
It was a world of difference from when he was the DPM. Sure enough the PPBM president was frustrated, and indeed a little bewildered. It looked like he wasn’t quite used to life as opposition leader yet.
The mood improved marginally when Mahathir arrived soon afterward, as people crowded around him and shook hands with him. The jovial atmosphere nevertheless did not last too long.
Some of the attendants left soon after they got their prizes, hardly bothering about the politicians still there.
When he night fell, PPBM held a political talk at a half-filled local community hall.
Muhyiddin and Mahathir took turns to deliver their speeches which invariably focused on 1MDB and Najib.
Nothing new in their speeches. Not much excitement from the crowd either. Some left early out of impatience.
I was thinking PPBM should have conveyed to the Malay community its raison d’être, reform agenda and objectives of its political struggle over the past one year, instead of harping on the same old issues. Moreover, the Malay community is hardly impressed by such arguments.
Thanks to the presence of Mahathir, PPBM has managed to draw some attention, but many in the Malay society has little idea why the party has come into being, except to topple Najib and Umno. They are also not sure what PPBM can do for them.
To the Malays, throwing out Najib is never an issue close to their hearts, but bringing down Umno could very much contravene their own interests.
While PPBM wants to take the place of Umno, it still fails to deliver itself out of Umno’s shadows. Empty ideologies and the fighting for power may only win over a handful of dejected but will hardly gain the acceptance of mainstream Malay society.
How many seats can PPBM win? Will it ever initiate a Malay tsunami? Will there be a change of government this time?
I’m not going to draw any conclusion here, but I believe yo have the answer.