PETALING JAYA • Umno leaders have refuted a news report that Barisan Nasional (BN), Malaysia's oldest political coalition, will be suspended.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is BN chairman and Umno president, said the claim in the article published on Friday was not true.
But he added that it would be a good move as it would allow the coalition members to talk to other parties to chart their own future.
Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan added that BN had never discussed the matter. "There is no such thing," he said.
Tan Sri Annuar Musa, the secretary-general of Umno, which chairs the coalition, had told news site The Malaysian Insight that BN had been temporarily suspended to explore partnerships with other political parties.
Umno was going through a "new phase" and the Barisan component parties needed to be pragmatic and look at the possibility of working with other parties, he said.
"We have decided that component parties must take care of themselves, for the time being. BN, for the time being, needs to be suspended for a little while. Let us try a new approach," Mr Annuar said.
On Friday, however, Mr Annuar said his remarks during an interview with the news site had been taken out of context.
He said there had never been any decision to suspend BN.
"I'm just the Umno secretary-general and I have no authority to speak about Barisan," he added.
Mr Annuar said if BN was to be suspended, it was a big story and the news should have come from BN and not from the Umno secretary-general.
The country's longest-serving coalition governed for over six decades until its shock election defeat in May, when it won only 79 of the 222 seats in Parliament.
From a grand pact of 13 parties, Barisan is now left with three parties - Umno, the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress.
The departure of several parties, mainly from Sabah and Sarawak, after the election loss leaves Barisan with 54 parliamentary seats, 51 of them held by Umno MPs.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK