The still-undisclosed BN’s candidate for the Hulu Selangor by-election is a very clear example of why the BN is not a coalition but a unitary political party with UMNO as its superior.
The dictionary says that a coalition is basically a combination or alliance, especially a temporary one between persons, factions, states, etc.
Thus rightfully the BN should be an alliance of a number of parties. In fact, in the old days (pre 13 May 1969) the BN was called Perikatan or Alliance.
An alliance indicates a formal agreement or treaty between two or more parties to cooperate for specific purposes.
Basically all parties in an alliance or coalition are ‘equal’ though of course the bigger or more powerful party is accepted as the primus inter pares or ‘first among equals’ – note the term ‘among equals’.
But the non-UMNO component parties in BN have since then sold off their sovereignty, independence, dignity and pride to UMNO, behaving and grovelling as subordinates and not as equals (even if they aren’t the ‘primus’).
In an alliance like Pakatan, the federal and state seats are negotiated and then allocated – sure, there’s the usual pre-emptive strikes (like what PKR tried to do against DAP just before the 2008 general election), tradeoffs, stealing, cheating etc etc, but once a seat is allocated to Party X, Parties Y and Z have to butt out and mind their own business.
Unfortunately (for MCA, MIC, Gerakan – no point mentioning the mosquito parties) in BN, UMNO vets and approves the other parties’ candidates. If say, MCA picks Ah Kow to stand in Bukit Bintang, and UMNO says no because someone in UMNO doesn’t like Ah Kow, then MCA won't be allowed to field him.
Recall the pre-2008 Kelana Jaya’s MP, Loh Seng Kok from MCA?
Well the brave bloke went on a verbal rampage in parliament, raising issues that hitherto had been considered taboo, especially more so for a BN bloke. He criticised our ‘imbalanced’ history textbooks, new prayer recital guidelines and the problems faced by non-Muslims with regards to places of worship.
Loh was damn mad that the approved syllabus and history textbooks were grossly deficient and negligent in that they ignored (1) the contribution of non-bumiputeras in Malaysia. and (2) focussed only on Islamic civilisation.
In these limitations he reckoned the books would restrict exposure for the students and hamper their critical thinking.
After Loh finished his coverage of the other two issues, he was warned by both UMNO and a PAS MP not to thread on ‘dangerous grounds’. I was surprised he was even allowed to finish his speech.
I wrote in my 2006 post 50 UMNO Youths Threatened MCA MP! that:
… 6 days later, a mob of 50 UMNO Youth members, led by Kelana Jaya division chief Abdul Halim Samad, paid him a surprise visit. Abdul Halim handed him a letter and told him ominously, “We don’t want to hear any explanation now; this is our letter, you read and answer it!”
Loh was warned that UMNO Youth would ‘take action’ if he failed to respond to the letter within a number of days. Some in the group had brought along video cameras to record the brief meeting.
The Kelana Jaya division claimed Loh had hurt the feelings of those sensitive touchy feely UMNO Youth members. They reminded Loh that the majority of voters in his Kelana Jaya parliamentary constituency are Malays. Aha! Here's a chance for PKR in next general election.
Well, it was obvious UMNO didn’t want him, because he did not stand in Kelana Jaya or anywhere in 2008, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise for him because he escaped facing the humiliation of losing to his clansman Loh Gwo Burne of PKR who joined the party just one week prior to 08 March 08 on the personal invitation of Anwar Ibrahim wakakaka.
That's the veto power of UMNO over its subordinates like MCA, Gerakan and MIC, etc. Galling, isn't it, but WTF could those Chinese and Indians do?
Back to Hulu Selangor - while MIC has nominated Palanivel to stand in the by-election (Hulu Selangor being allocated to MIC), it’ll be UMNO who has the final say, because we've just heard that "I'm a Malay first, then a Malaysian" Muhyiddin has nominated V Mugilan instead.
But at least, as reported in Malaysiakini’s MIC, Umno face off over candidate? MIC is prepared to go to war (of a sort) if UMNO has its way. Samy Vellu has threatened to sack V Mugilan from the party for lobbying for the seat as well as for carrying out underground activities to tarnish Palanivel.
Aiyah, no worries lah Mugilan, if you are elected, you will then join Muru-whatever his name is, that bloke who was sacked from PPP, as Najib's handymen, notwithstanding the BN constitution that a no-party person cannot be in BN. If UMNO boss wants, UMNO boss gets and f* any BN agreement.
The asymmetric relationship in BN sees UMNO treating MIC not as its alliance partner but rather as a subordinate, deciding by itself who in MIC should stand.
That’s not going to happen in Pakatan, not with parties like PAS and DAP.