Malaysian opposition plans new alliance

SIBU • Seven opposition political parties across Malaysia are set to launch a new alliance following the breakdown of the Pakatan Raykat alliance and increasing fragmentation of the opposition.

The new coalition, called Gabungan Rakyat Saksama (Saksama), will be launched within the next two months, said Sarawak Reform Party (Star) president Lina Soo at a press conference yesterday.

"We will be an alternative political force to the ruling coalition Barisan. We will also form a shadow Cabinet as we will be the new ruling party in waiting," she said.

She said an application to register the party has been made with the Registry of Societies. "We are expecting to launch it in one or two months' time," Ms Soo added.

She said Pakatan Rakyat (PR) had failed to pose a stiff challenge to Prime Minister Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional coalition.

PR, made up of the largest opposition parties - the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - was formed soon after the opposition won a record five out of 13 states in Malaysia's 2008 polls.

But it has fallen into disarray after the jailing of Anwar on a sodomy conviction and the death of PAS leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat last year.

To make things worse, PAS' push for implementation of hudud law in Kelantan widened the differences between the former partners, and the alliance is now defunct.

A PAS splinter group called Amanah has teamed up with DAP and PKR to form a new alliance called Pakatan Harapan, but the alliance has, so far, failed to make its mark, losing to BN by big margins in two by-elections this year.

Saksama comprises Star, Parti Sejahtera Angkatan Perpaduan Sabah, Pertubuhan Perpaduan Rakyat Kebangsaan Sabah, Malaysia United People's Party (MUPP), Parti Kebangsaan Sabah, Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak and the People's Alternative Party from the peninsula.

"MUPP, under its president Philip Among, initiated this new coalition last month. Seven political parties have agreed to be part of it and we are expecting more to join us," Ms Soo said.

Ms Soo added that the new opposition coalition was being set up in preparation for the next general election, which is due to be held by May 2018, though some analysts say Datuk Seri Najib may hold it next year.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2016, with the headline 'Malaysian opposition plans new alliance'. Print Edition | Subscribe