PETALING JAYA: The battle lines for the 15th general election (GE15) have yet to be drawn, but it is almost certain that the stage is set for a never-seen-before clash among the various political parties.
Parties such as Umno, MCA and MIC that had traditionally been contesting as incumbents, may go into battle as the Opposition, as pointed out by MIC deputy president Datuk Seri M. Saravanan this week.
Barisan Nasional (BN) may not even be around to do battle.
University of Tasmania professor of Asian Studies James Chin pointed out that MCA and MIC may even pull out of BN in favour of joining Perikatan Nasional (PN), leaving Umno to hold the flag.
This will sound the death knell for the coalition, that has won every election until 2018.
There will be new alliances, with PN being one of them. The coalition will be led by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), still a new kid on the block by Umno standards.
Umno has already decided that it will not be part of PN when GE15 comes. Even its alliance with PAS under Muafakat Nasional is now shaky.
Last but not least is the bid by Bersatu to lead a “grand” coalition into battle, as announced by Pahang PN chairman Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah last Saturday. He said the new coalition will not have a “dominant” party like in BN where Umno was the backbone.
Chin said PN, under the leadership of Prime Minister and Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, is likely trying to become a second BN, or “BN2.0”. At its height, BN had 14 parties under its wings, with Umno being the largest.
“Apart from Bersatu, the Liberal Democratic Party of Sabah and Gerakan are also in PN. Of course, they are also wooing MCA and MIC,” Chin said.
Political commentator Prof Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi cast doubt on the ability of Umno to go it alone if MCA and MIC decide to abandon their long-time partner.
“MCA and MIC are now probably reluctant to contest under the BN umbrella with Umno leading the coalition,” he told theSun.
“Will there be a BN without MCA and MIC? More than that, will there even be an Umno left, given that there are now a few ‘clusters’ within the party that has become more divided than ever.”
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng pointed out that it would be a new ball game for Umno to contest as an opposition party.
But whichever way the battle lines are drawn, much of the fight will be in cyberspace. With digital technology as the new way to fight, air time will diminish in importance.
The battleground will be social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Cyber troopers will be out to woo voters and win their support, and this is where Umno has the edge.
Tajuddin even described Umno cyber troopers as “excellent”.
“Social media and WhatsApp are going to be dominant, as always. House-to-house campaigns too, if it is allowed,” he said.
“I don’t think the incumbent government will have significant advantage over the Oppositio