Can BN be a credible opposition force?

UKM’s Faisal S Hazis says Barisan Nasional must learn the hard way how to develop into a strong opposition force. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: Political scientist Faisal S Hazis has advised Barisan Nasional (BN) to turn its defeat into an opportunity to transform itself into a formidable opposition.

To do this, he told FMT, the coalition would have to revamp itself so that leaders capable of heading a strong opposition force would emerge from its ranks.

He alleged, however, that none of its current leaders had such capabilities.

“BN doesn’t have the kind of leaders who can bring it to the point where Pakatan Harapan (PH) was at as an opposition force,” he said.

“It has to reboot its whole structure and it has to look at the way it appoints leaders and nominates candidates.”

Faisal, an associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, acknowledged that it would take time for BN to rebuild itself, noting that PH took years to strengthen itself as a political force.

“Now BN must learn the hard way,” he said. “It could take years, maybe decades.”

Since it would be some time before Malaysians could rely on the opposition to provide checks and balances, he added, it behoved the new government to ensure the fulfilment of its promise to reform institutions.

“Institutions such as the Election Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, to name a few, must be strengthened and made apolitical,” he said. “We should not have to rely solely on the opposition to provide checks and balances.”

He added that academics, civic groups, the media and the general public should also play their parts as guardians of democracy.

Another political scientist, Wong Chin Huat of the Penang Institute, said he believed BN’s weakness as an opposition force would mainly be the result of its lack of survival instinct rather than lack of leadership.

“It doesn’t have the experience to thrive or even survive in the political wilderness,” he said. “Its main challenge is to function without government resources.”