BN leaders considering disbanding coalition

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) cannot rule out being disbanded after the defection of four member parties in Sarawak, said BN's secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, as the former 13-party group now has only four members left.

A prominent Umno leader and former Cabinet minister Nazri Aziz said it might be a "good thing" to just dissolve the once-mighty coalition.

BN and its predecessor Alliance Party ruled Malaysia for 61 years since independence, but was shockingly defeated at the general election last month.

The rival Pakatan Harapan (PH) alliance led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has, meanwhile, grown stronger after winning at the polls.

Tengku Adnan, a former cabinet minister, said he is waiting for the return of acting BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, from a pilgrimage to Mecca, before deciding what action to take.

"I am waiting for him to return and we will discuss what to do. After that, if BN has to be disbanded then it will be. What to do?" Tengku Adnan was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times daily yesterday.

BN SERIOUSLY WEAKENED

This is the beginning of the end of BN. BN no longer exists in Sarawak, and in a year or two it will also collapse in Sabah.

MP KHALID SAMAD, communications director of Parti Amanah Negara, a PH component party

Four Sarawak BN parties on Tuesday announced their exit from the coalition to form a new coalition called Gabungan Parti Sarawak.

The parties comprise Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the Sarawak United Peoples' Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Parti Demokratik Progresif (PDP).

The four parties won 19 out of 31 parliamentary seats in Sarawak under the BN flag in the May 9 general election.

They also control the Sarawak state assembly after the 2016 state polls.

The four parties have indicated that they would be "friendly" to the ruling PH alliance led by Tun Dr Mahathir.

Their departure has left BN seriously weakened, with just four parties remaining from the original 13 just before the general election.

BN now has 59 seats in the federal Parliament, with 54 of those won by Umno.

MP Nazri Aziz of Umno said it was time for BN to dissolve, as it was "as good as gone."

"It might be a good thing to dissolve BN now and have Umno go it alone in peninsular Malaysia," he was quoted as saying by The Star daily yesterday.

He added that there was no coming back for BN, especially as its key allies who are still in the coalition all did badly at the polls.

The remaining parties in BN are the Malaysian Chinese Association, the Malaysian Indian Congress and Parti Gerakan.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir, who is the PH chairman, said his alliance is stronger in Parliament today thanks to the expressions of support from Sarawak, as well as an understanding with the Terengganu faction of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).

"They are not members of Pakatan but they have pledged support for us. So now, we have very strong support in Parliament because even Terengganu (ruled by PAS) has said it would support us," he told reporters.

Other PH leaders said the Sarawak move reflected BN's weakness and heralded its likely demise.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat strategic director Sim Tze Tzin said BN was virtually "dead" as its component parties had chosen to separate for their own political survival.

MP Khalid Samad, communications director of Parti Amanah Negara, another PH component party, said: "This is the beginning of the end of BN. BN no longer exists in Sarawak, and in a year or two it will also collapse in Sabah," he said.

In Sabah, where Umno has seven MPs and six lawmakers in the state assembly, there has been a debate over whether they should abandon Umno and form a new Sabah party.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2018, with the headline 'BN leaders considering disbanding coalition'. Print Edition | Subscribe