As the Chief BN Coordinator, I have been tasked to look at Parliament and DUN seats that we lost to PR in the last general election. Since this is a new post, there is no precedent and no track record whereby I can seek guidance. I can only learn as I move along.
In order to coordinate effectively, it is obvious that I need the cooperation from all the component parties in BN. There is suspicion and also this perception that BN lost in some of the seats because of internal sabotage. This often come about when a long entrenched incumbent is replaced or you have parachute candidates that are not welcomed at the local level. So, candidate do matter in general election.
I choose to start my first meeting in Bakri since I am familiar with the local BN component party leadership. Muar BN was also invited since there is no clear separation in terms of voting by Muarians. Hence, a Muarian may be staying within the constituency in Bakri but he may be voting in Muar and it can be vice versa. Hence, cooperation between the BN of Muar and Bakri is important to ensure victory.
In the 308 election, BN lost the Parliamentary seat of Bakri and retained the seat of Muar. Within these two parliamentary seats, there are seven constituencies and BN lost three, one to DAP, and two to PAS. The Parliamentary seat of Bakri has always been a BN stronghold until 2008 election. The general feeling is when the incumbent in Bakri was replaced after having served 5 terms, some of the MCA members and supporters were not happy. This is the problem that BN faces when a long serving candidate is replaced with a new face. The incumbents always feel that they have many more years to go before they retire. Hence, in a lot of constituencies, when a long serving incumbent is replaced, there is non-cooperation and what is worst sabotage. Anyway, the incumbent for one of the Parliamentary seats who was replaced did not turn out for the meeting although he is still head of the division.
The meeting proceeded well with input from all the component parties. The consensus was that BN needs to move as a team. The YBs should serve their constituencies well, irrespective of race and religion. They should go down to the ground in order to understand the rakyat better. In the same way, grant should be given to all irrespective of race. BN at the local level should hold meeting at least once in three months and activities should be conducted in the name of BN. A lot of local issues were raised, some of which require state or federal intervention. I promised that once I receive all the details, I would try to contact the relevant ministries in order that some of the long-standing problems can be resolved.
Some of the leaders complained that they still run their service centre as if they are still the YBs. Of course funding is a problem since you need funds to run the service centre. Most of the voters even in the opposition-controlled state or Parliamentary seats still come to their service centre for help. Some of the local leaders felt that this was unfair. My response was to serve and to let the rakyat decide who is serving and who is not.