Wednesday, May 22, 2013

'Disband to become one party under Barisan'

Young voters are put off by race-based parties, claims Gerakan

KUALA LUMPUR: GERAKAN acting president Datuk Chang Ko Youn has called upon Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties to disband and form one party to eliminate racial politics.

He suggested that Umno, MIC and MCA look into the possibility of removing racial membership in its parties and let people join regardless of ethnicity as young voters were put off by race-based parties.

Chang said BN had to find ways of getting support from young and urban voters to remain relevant to them.

He pointed out that although the old ways still worked with the older generation, a new approach had to be taken in order to capture the minds of younger voters.

"In view of the current political scenario, Gerakan feels that all the parties should revamp their image and go on a non-racial line as a single party to suit the trend of young people."

Chang said the 13th General Election saw a trend of voting in urban areas which crossed racial lines, adding that the Chinese had voted for Pas candidates and vice-versa.

"Two years back, MCA leadership had talks with Gerakan about a possible merger, but we were met with an obstacle as MCA's constitution prevents other races from joining its party."

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He appealed to BN parties to look into their party constitution and open their doors to people outside their racial group.

Chang explained that for political development in BN, parties had to change from racial to non-racial and instead focus on human rights, democracy, governance and transparency.

"These are matters of importance to urban voters, bearing in mind that they make up 60 per cent of the voting population.

"With Umno being the biggest political party, I hope they will take up the initiative and start the ball rolling to make this move more effective."

Chang said apart from MCA, Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) was one of the parties interested in the idea.

Selangor BN publicity chairman and MCA veteran Datuk Yap Pian Hon said although he was not opposed to the idea, it would be impractical at this point in time to disband the component parties.

"It would need further discussion by delegates and would take time as there will be a need to amend each party's constitution."

He suggested that the coalition's name be changed to "One Malaysia" in favour of promoting a multiracial based party.

Umno information chief Datuk Ahmad Maslan disagreed with the idea, but said the suggestion should first be discussed at each party's supreme council, as well as BN's supreme council, chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

MIC information chief Datuk V.S. Mogan said there was a need for ethnic-based parties as they could look at the issues facing each race.

MIC Putera coordinator P. Kamalanathan said although the prime minister had previously mooted the idea of making BN a singular political entity, more deliberation was required on the idea.

"The days of race-based political parties are definitely on the decline, but we should not make a haphazard decision and implement a change that isn't practical or functional."

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