Gerakan has a mission – take back Penang in the next general election or face extinction.
The mission was spelt out by Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman who is also Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself at the launch of the party annual general assemby (AGM) last weekend.
Najib did not said face extinction if the party fails to regain Penang but the facts are there for all to see.
Gerakan, with the coalition parrtners Umno and MCA, had held Penang since the 1969 general election and the records were there where the BN coalition led by Gerakan had even defeated DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang in previous many general elections.
However, the 2008 general election saw the multi-racial Chinese-based party in the ruling coalition ‘beaten to pulps’ by its dominant Chinese supporters to the extent the party leaders were caught off-balance.
Call it complacency or taking their supporters for granted, the fact remains that the party has lost its grassroot influence as well as the trust of other races who supported the party all this while.
Last weekend AGM was a turning point for the party to rejuvenate itself and the assembly saw the members’ renewed determination to take back the state.
It resolved to take the moderate and reconciliatory approach – the approach that Najib had recommended in his opening speech – the approach that saw the party president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong won the Teluk Intan parliamentary seat by-election a few months ago.
In fact, Mah’s victory saw early rejuvenation of the party, never mindÂ that DAP’s candidate Dyana Sofya Yusof was not liked by the Chinese voters there.
Since Mah, as Geran president had set the pace, it is now the right time to maintain and set the target higher – take back Penang – considered as the party’s homestate.
Penang is a Chinese majority state but Umno, the backbone of the ruling coalition had managed to retain some of its seats compared to Gerakan and MCA that lost all its state and parliamentary seats to Chinese-based DAP.
DAP was said to have captured the state through the party’s chauvinistic ideology which is still being kept burning in the hearts and minds of Penangites and Gerakan has to penetrate this ideology to win back the state.
It is not an easy task but on the other hand, it is not also a difficult jobÂ given the fact that Gerakan was formed on the basis of multi-racialism – sharing the same dreams among all the races.
Gerakan has around four years to penetrate and change the mindset of its Chinese supporters to give the party another chance and the party cannot play up racial qnd religious issues like its DAP rival.
Mah had pledged to act against the party leaders and members who raised such issues to win back support and as such, the party cannot dance to the tune of DAP to level the ‘battle field.”
It has to play the role of mediator, the role of pacifying the raging racial minds of Penang Chinese change ‘allegiance’ from DAP to BN and specifically to Gerakan.
Whether the party is able to match DAP in the ‘political war’ in the next four years in Penang is a big question mark, Najib as BN chairman and Prime Minister has set the ground work well with his policies and political approaches that is now acceptable by Malaysians.
No more questions on Chinese schools and Malay privileges are no longer an issue.
It is now up to Gerakan to touch ground with Penangites particularly Penang Chinese to gain back their trust and confidence.MYNEWSHUB