During an interview with Sin Chew Daily, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai mentioned something that really deserves some contemplation.
He was concerned that if Chinese votes do not return to the BN, the country could be pushed further towards another extreme, as Umno and PAS will invariably work together to lead the country down the road of racist politics.
Just as BN is losing the support of Chinese voters, Umno will more than ever lean towards a cooperation with PAS in order to consolidate its hold of the federal administration.
These two parties have been arch rivals for years but to secure the support of the majority Malay-Muslim society, they have been exchanging goodwill over the last two years.
As a matter of fact, PAS has distanced itself from the opposition front ever since the collapse of Pakatan Rakyat. When Pakatan Harapan wanted to veto the Budget in 2015 to force PM cum finance minister Najib Razak to step down, PAS refused to join in.
Meanwhile, Umno has held out the olive branch by allowing PAS president Hadi Awang to table his private bill in Dewan Rakyat.
The moment the cooperation between the two parties becomes a reality, the country’s political ecosystem will be irreversibly changed.
That said, the two parties still need to overcome powerful resistance and obstacles in order to bring this to fruition. For one thing, Umno needs to take into consideration the feelings of its allies as well as members, not to mention the redistribution of seats and interests.
Whether Chinese votes will eventually return to the BN will have a direct bearing on MCA’s destiny. Having suffered thumping defeats in the 2008 and 2013 general elections, MCA is today significantly weakened, and it wouldn’t be easy for the party to exercise its influences in checking the advances of Umno within the ruling coalition itself.
Politics is something very realistic. With a mere seven elected reps in the Parliament, MCA’s negotiating power is remarkably eroded.
Despite some faint signs Chinese votes returned to the ruling coalition in last year’s twin by-elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar, this should not seen as a definite indication that Chinese voters will go for BN in the coming general election.
As for the overwhelming support of Chinese voters in Sarawak, a strong local factor was actually in play and could not reflect how Chinese voters nationwide would vote.
Anyway, the inclination of Chinese voters will continue to be closely watched in the run-up to the next GE. As for MCA, GE14 will be a very crucial battle, and if the party once again fails to bounce back, its future will be doomed.