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GERAKAN is at a crossroads.
After suffering a crushing blow in the March general election, the party had attempted to soldier on bravely.
Six months since the party's near-annihilation in the polls, the situation is no better. Gerakan (is) a mere shadow of the robust and purposeful party it once was, when it saw itself as the "conscience of BN".
Many members remain confused, frustrated and bent on pushing forward a single agenda -- change. Without that, it is feared that Gerakan will be completely obliterated from the country's political landscape come the next general election.
Already the state delegates' conferences in Perak and Kedah have called for a significant change -- pulling out of Barisan Nasional.
The emergence of Pakatan Rakyat, which essentially has similar ideals as Gerakan, has been an added threat.
Many members feel that Gerakan has veered far from its original objective of fighting for the rights of the people irrespective of race, without prejudice or bias.
Pro-tem committee chairman Rene Leow said the party is now unable to speak up on certain issues against the larger component parties in the BN.
"We are therefore seen as ineffectual and kowtowing to others. As a result, the party is no longer in sync with the objectives on which it was founded. We should be able to call a spade a spade, without fear or favour.Options for GERAKAN
Under BN, we cannot fight for Malay rights or issues as we will be seen to be
trespassing on Umno's turf, for instance.
I personally feel (the party) needs to strike out on its own. If it does not change, Gerakan will be finished."
- Leave BN and Strike Out Alone.
(But) on its own, it may flounder further. The record of parties striking out on their own has rarely been good.
- Join Pakatan Rakyat.
That, too, has been dismissed as unwise. Now at its weakest, the party would likely "be sidelined in the allocation of seats and treated as a minor member of the coalition " .
- Sticking it out with the BN.
"A BN that has lost power at the federal level would be forced to adapt to life in the opposition and, most importantly, force Umno to rethink how it wants to present its political message." According to Ong Kian Ming, (sticking with BN) would be the only chance for Gerakan to introduce elements of reform within the BN.
Today, Malays form a small fraction of the party's membership. Some 80 per cent of its members are Chinese, while 15 per cent are Indians.
Gerakan's multiracial philosophy has been usurped by Parti Keadilan Rakyat. Profession Chin says:
"People buy PKR's multiracial brand but NOT Gerakan's, as it is viewed not to be selling true multiracialism."Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, the party's former president said if it was put to a vote today, Gerakan members would choose to leave Barisan Nasional.
Still, the Umno and BN leadership should be prepared for the exit of Gerakan, judging by his pungent and pessimistic reading of the political situation.
Tun Dr.Lim Keng Yaik said,
Tun Dr Lim alleged that money politics culture in Umno also had an impact on the general elections, saying that all new Gerakan candidates were given "hell by the Umno divisional chairmen".
"We had the worst kind of Umno arrogance as a result of the 2004 elections.
The abuse of power, corruption, negotiated tenders with government tenders going mainly to Umno-associated companies. All this is not decided by the Cabinet but by the Ministry of Finance.
You think people don't know. Prices are jacked up and there is NO check on the implementation of these projects.
And then you had the Umno assembly and everyone saw how racist its members can become. All these things put us as a component party in a very difficult situation. And then Hindraf came into the picture.
I think, being racially based, they (UMNO)think they can still turn the Malay votes. So the first thing they did was talk to Pas."