COMMENTARY, Feb 15 — Gerakan has finally found a home where it can now return to the mainstream of the country’s politics after being in wilderness for the past one decade.
The multi-racial but Chinese-based party is still seeking its direction despite joining Perikatan Nasional (PN), but the fast-changing and unpredictable Malaysian voters may just take the party as a ‘drifter’ looking for greener pastures.
Neither a Chinese nor a multi-racial party, it went into political wilderness when it lost Penang, its home-base, to another multi-racial but Chinese-based party, DAP, which is recognised and acceptable as a Chinese champion.
Gerakan actually lost everything politically when it lost Penang in 2008. Its base was eroded and swept off by the DAP as it searched for its objectives and struggles in the changed political landscape and environment at that time.
Its role in Barisan Nasional (BN ) at that time was also questionable as the ruling coalition has MCA, which is truly a Chinese-based party, and this posed a problem for Gerakan.
It cannot attract the Chinese because DAP is there and it cannot attract the Chinese elites and businessmen because MCA is there, although the latter lost to DAP in terms of true-blue Chinese struggle and objectives.
Now that it found a new home in PN, it has to identify its role so that it is an asset to the present ruling coalition and not just a passenger.
PN is a new coalition with an ideal philosophy where it wants a united Malaysia where all parties come under one roof and policies are created to benefit all Malaysians.
However, the coalition needs to have all races represented in its administration and accepting Gerakan as its member, the latter needs to find its niche as it cannot be neither here nor there — it is not Chinese-based or multi-racial.
Gerakan now must identify its target audience. It failed to attract the Chinese voters and it failed to attract the intellectual multi-racial Malaysians, which saw its collapse in Penang and the whole country.
The party does not represent the average Chinese as this is taken by DAP and the party does not represent the elite Chinese because this group is taken by MCA.
So, which group will it go for now that it is the only Chinese-based party in PN? Will the party end up like Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) in Pakatan Harapan (PH) when it failed to copy Islamist PAS and ended up with opening its doors to other races and is no longer an Islamist party?
Amanah did defeat the purpose of its formation to aid PH to erode the support for PAS and it now has to find its niche to remain relevant to PH especially DAP.
But for Gerakan, it is something that it has to work on, especially with the current political environment that is not friendly to a “drifter” that abandoned its allies in 2018 when BN lost its power.
The Chinese are not looking up for a new party nor are they looking for the existing parties. Gerakan is not considered to be in the two categories. To them, Gerakan is not relevant at all to the current political landscape.
So where does the party go from here onwards? This depends on many factors and even the party leaders may only have some rough idea of what they should strive for in the wild political jungle.
But it is a known fact that the party is to play its role to attract Chinese voters for PN since the coalition has no Chinese-based party in its fold.
PN has now got to find one more party, an Indian-based party, to have a fully rounded representation.
Will People”s Progressive Party (PPP) be the next to come in?
Time will tell as the general election date draws nearer.