By Leslie Lau
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the man who asked Malaysia to look east, and he now believes the sun could be setting on the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
In a posting on his blog today, Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister warned that it was not entirely impossible that the next election could see the same phenomenon in Japan happen to BN.
“The only thing that could save the BN is the lack-lustre performance of the opposition. The alternative is not a real alternative”.
“But if the performance of the BN government and parties fail to gain confidence, the frustrated voters might just do what the Japanese voters did — dump the party they had supported for more than half a century.”
Japan’s LDP recently lost the elections, ending more than half a century of nearly uninterrupted rule, and observers here have begun to draw parallels with political developments affecting BN.
BN lost its traditional two-thirds majority in last year’s general elections and has been struggling with attempts to reform.
Dr Mahathir, who was a trenchant critic of Tun Abdullah Badawi’s administration, has warmed to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s government. But he continues to be critical of the corruption and lack of direction that has beset Umno and other BN parties.
He wrote in his blog today that based on his assessment of the current situation, it was likely BN and Umno could share the same fate of parties like Japan’s LDP.
The Malaysian Insider reported today that according to a new poll of voters in peninsular Malaysia, power still hangs in the balance with BN having a slight edge.
A significant number of voters still appear undecided, and their backing remains up for grabs between BN and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties.
“In just three years time the new elections will be held. Time is obviously running short.”
“Unless some drastic change is shown in the way the country is run and the people are served, BN will join the other grand old party in the rubbish heap of history,” said Dr Mahathir.
He said that there was no doubt the rot had set in and that corruption was now rampant in Umno and other component parties.
Without naming anyone, Dr Mahathir said that power had emasculated many BN leaders, and pointed out that many of them were clinging on to power even though they had outlived their usefulness.
The former PM did however criticised his old friend and ally Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu a day earlier in an interview with a Tamil newspaper, and called for the MIC president to make way for younger leaders in the party.
“Malaysia’s voters, especially the Malays, have always been strongly loyal. Yet there is evidence that in 2008 many of these loyalists had voted for the opposition.