Direct Membership? Or is it BN Fan Club?
Posted by Oscar the Grouch on October 11, 2008
I was horrendously bored this early noon. The cluttered pile of academic text and research articles remain untouched, despite my university co-supervisor issuing a solemn formal caution against my months of failure to submit status reports on the progression of my thesis paper. “File in your reports so that I know your work is on track, or be prepared to be dropped from the programme,” she retorted to me with her unveiled threats.
Well, it doesn’t help with this blistering afternoon weather shining lazily towards the voluminous handbook on the dry subject of law. I am truly beaten and reduced to being an idle sloth in such languid climatic conditions.
I decided for a timeout. Watching the afternoon news, accompanied by my ole’ faithful hot mug of Nescafe appears a better option at that point of time. So there I was, scrolling transversely across the multiples of channels, until I hit the RTM1 news bulletin. Well, it has been some time since I’ve watched the local broadcast, I thought to myself earnestly.
“The Prime Minister has suggested allowing people to become members of Barisan Nasional without joining any component party,” says the newscaster. “Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said this would make the party more multiracial and allow those who love Barisan to get closer to the party,” added the pretty announcer.
Now, that’s news, I thought to myself. Is there anyone still in love with Barisan? Well, perhaps apart from Barisan themselves? But that’s self-love, so it doesn’t count. It’s somewhat like how self-gratification don’t make one score points. But that’s another matter altogether ;-).
But on a more serious note, I pondered on the issue of the legal status of Barisan Nasional, something which has been irritatingly bugging me for some time now. I have always wondered what Barisan Nasional is? My understanding is that BN is a coalition of a number of political parties in Malaysia. A swift click on Wikipedia search explains that:-
“Barisan Nasional (National Front or BN) is a major political coalition in Malaysia. Formed in 1973 as the successor to the Alliance (Parti Perikatan), it has ruled Malaysia uninterrupted (including the term of the Alliance) since independence. The coalition’s headquarters is located in the nation’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.”
Which sets me thinking, if Umno, MCA, MIC and the what-have-you-not are all registered as political parties under the umbrella of the Societies Act, is the Barisan Nasional also a political party in itself? Or is it an unregistered association without any recognized legal entity? If BN is merely a loosely formed unregistered coalition, then our dear Prime Minister is proposing direct membership to nowhere.
On this point, our dear Wiki explains that Barisan Nasional was actually registered as a political party. But on that account, Wiki hastens to explain that:-
“Although both the Alliance and Barisan Nasional registered themselves as political parties, membership was only possible indirectly through one of the constituent parties. In the Alliance, one could hold direct membership, but this was abolished with the formation of the Barisan Nasional. The Barisan Nasional defines itself as “a confederation of political parties which subscribe to the objects of the Barisan Nasional”.
This means, it is a registered political party for other political parties. Did I make sense on that bit? People can join a political party; that political party then joins the mother of all political parties. Sort of a mother ship. Somehow, that brings to mind on religion. To go to heaven, one must enlist to a religious faith, specifically entwined to that particular assigned spiritual messenger. But lo and behold, the PM announces a direct flight, transcending borders.
But, I knew, at the back of my mind, that such proposals would have its problems. A further google blog search reveals this rather interesting observation:-
“Pada zaman Parti Perikatan keahlian terus dibenarkan pada satu ketika tetapi selepas Barisan Nasional ditubuhkan keahlian terus tidak lagi digunapakai. Ini kerana Barisan Nasional terbentuk atas satu gabungan dari pelbagai parti politik. Sekiranya keahlian terus dibuka kepada semua rakyat Malaysia, maka Barisan Nasional perlu didaftarkan sebagai sebuah parti politik.”
Does make sense, I thought, as one can’t just change one’s entity just like that. BN is the mother ship, but it now wants to be an ordinary ship. This means it must: either, like what was proposed, re-register itself as an ordinary political party; or, alternatively, overhaul its whole constitution.
Several issues come to mind: if BN re-registers itself as a normal political party, thus allowing individuals to join, what then would be the position of the existing component parties. Surely, it cannot be expected of them to disband their organization and re-apply membership individually. On the other hand, if BN does allow direct membership by individuals without re-registering, thus maintaining the status quo position of the component parties, what then, I may ask, are the positions of these individual members? Who do they represent? Themselves, I presume. Who or what cause would each and every of them be championing for? Again, themselves, I presume. What menial tasks would these unimpressive members be assigned to? Can they expect to get positions as ministers, senators or sit on any committee?
Or perhaps it is what the Prime Minister had envisaged, and I quote again, “… this would make the party more multiracial and allow those who love Barisan to get closer to the party,”. Hmm, sounds fishy to me, as it borders more on “I love BN Fan club” membership than anything else. Perhaps, it is their way of getting more people to wave little I Luv U flags along the roadways while the Minister whizz pass in the gleaming Lexus. And along the way, these individual members can buy BN memorabilia and I’m a BN Fan t-shirt.
Well, it’s all rather perplexing to me at this scorching heat. It is a tad bit too hot to ponder on such dreary subjects. Let our outgoing PM contemplate over such things, he has a few months to do so.
By the way, I wonder if there is a Barisan Nasional coffee mug. To replace my existing one.