Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Future of Centripetal Politics in Malaysia

What ever happened to this proposal

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 2010 (Bernama) -- The Management Committee of the Barisan Nasional (BN) will study how the ruling coalition can be more open and inclusive to admit BN-friendly individuals, political parties and non-governmental organisations into the coalition, Deputy Prime Minister and BN Deputy Chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said on Saturday. He said the committee, chaired by him, would consider all the proposals before submitting them to the BN Supreme Council meeting. "Many BN-friendly political parties and non-governmental organisations have been unable to join the coalition as there is no provision for this in the BN constitution," he told reporters after presenting the SAM-100Plus awards, here. Muhyiddin said all BN component parties were asked to send their representatives to sit on a special committee headed by Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein which would study and refine details of the amendments. "We have to study the pros and cons of the proposals, whether the BN should be restricted to political parties or opened also to non-political organisations such as economic, social and welfare bodies, which are friendly to the BN, as well as individuals," he said. Yesterday, Prime Minister and BN Chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the BN would hold a convention to amend its constitution to be more open and inclusive to admit BN-friendly individuals, political parties and NGOs into the coalition. -- BERNAMA (here)

I once touched upon the structure of our political parties in the The Ugly Truth of Consociational Centripetalist Democracy (here)

Allow me to reproduce some of the references

What is Consociational Democracy?
Its main Theorist Arend Lijphard came out with the term after studying deeply divided societies,

"Consociational prescriptions are based on the principle that each ethnic polity should enjoy a significant degree of autonomy and a right of veto over matters directly affecting the welfare of its members. Emphasising the need for elite cooperation if democracy is to survive in ethnically-cleaved societies, consociational agreements entail a balance of power within government between clearly defined social segments, brokered by identifiable ethnic leaders representing distinct social groups" Benjamin Reilly

Consociationalism guarantees that each ethnic group would share political power and constrains the elite of those different groups to govern together. Consociationalism is therefore a powerful means for protecting minorities and for imposing accommodation at the political level. However, consociationalism suffers of schizophrenia: if consociation compels political elites to find a compromise between the demands of ethnic groups, it does not give group leaders any incentive to adopt a moderate discourse on ethnic questions. On the contrary, in order to obtain the support of their electorate, leaders must adopt an aggressive attitude.” Laurent De Brey .

And what is Centripetalism

"Centripetalism is as a political system or strategy designed to focus competition at the moderate centre rather than the extremes, and identified three facilitating components:
(i) the presentation of electoral incentives for campaigning politicians to reach out to and attract votes from a range of ethnic groups other than their own, thus encouraging candidates to moderate their political rhetoric on potentially divisive issues and forcing them to broaden their policy positions;
(ii) the presence of multiethnic arenas of bargaining such as parliamentary and executive forums, in which political actors from different groups have an incentive to come together and cut deals on reciprocal electoral support, and hence perhaps on other more substantial policy issues as well; and
(iii) the development of centrist, aggregative and multiethnic political parties or coalitions of parties which are capable of making cross-ethnic appeals and presenting a complex and diverse range of policy options to the electorate. Like consociationalism, centripetal proposals for conflict management focus on parties, elections, and representative institutions as the key focus of political engineering. However, the institutional recommendations made by centripetalists often run sharply counter to those of consociationalists. For instance, rather than focussing on the fair representation of ethnically-defined political parties, centripetalists place a premium on promoting multiethnic parties and cross-ethnic activity" Benjamin Reilly

So folks how does this fit into what we are observing in Malaysia.... Take the Barisan for instance its 3 main component parties are actually Consociationalist and the Barisan National itself is the Centripetalist when they go for election la...policy making is still dictated by the Consociationalist extremist...... So what happens now when an issue that falls into the ethnic cleavage crops up? how would the Elite Political Actors react to the demand of each ethnic interest group......do they move to the center to find a solution or do they go to the extreme to gain the ethnic political support
Hence the paradox

Each time BN goes for Election it uses the Dacing Symbol Vs the Other Party

And yet No Individual can join the Party...


For 50 over years BN been asking Malaysians to vote for a Party that has No Individual Member

Strange don't you think.

For example someone may not agree to the Policies or Political Stand of UMNO or MCA or MIC or any other BN component party but agrees to the compromise made among them which became the final policy for the Government.

How do we position our voice?

On the other side its even more funny you got a Party lead by a Cheap Minister that claims to be "Multi Racial" but position itself as a hard left single ethnic party (here Thank you Helen Ang for your analysis)

If the upcoming battle is for the Moderate Center, I sincerely think that the Proposal of Direct Membership should be reconsidered.

It may be able to create the necessary pull for Malay Professionals

MALACCA, March 28 — Umno must not continue blocking the entry of professionals and academics into the party as this has led to the current lack of talented leaders, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today “For decades, Umno has ‘not allowed’ the smart ones to join the party. That is why many doctors have joined PAS,” the former prime minister was quoted as saying by Bernama Online. “This ultimately makes it difficult for Umno to find suitable candidates in ensuring victory in the elections,” he added. Dr Mahathir also urged the party to consider fielding outsiders in the coming general election, saying it should abandon the practice of only picking divisional leaders to contest. “We should accept good candidates, whether they are Umno members or not,” he said. Acknowledging that the reluctance to admit the professional class had been prevalent even during his time, the country’s longest-serving prime minister told the party it could no longer afford to restrict membership to the usual quality of entrants. “We want talented and qualified people, then only we can form a capable government,” he said. He then reminded Umno that the general election would be won primarily on the support of the general populace, the overwhelming majority of which are non-members. (here)
The choice is with the BN, will extreme voices of Party members defy the most logical move?

What if direct BN members become bigger than even UMNO members? Would the warlords be pissing in their pants?

The middle ground awaits your next course of action 
Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open. -Lord Thomas Dewer