PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Gerakan party has become the latest party to exit the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which was ousted from power after a stunning loss at the country's May 9 general election.
Gerakan's central committee in a press release on Saturday (June 23) said the Chinese-dominated party had unanimously decided to leave the BN coalition following its loss to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition at the 14th general election.
"The decision was made after serious and comprehensive deliberation, reflection and consideration of the current political developments of the country post-GE14. The sentiment of the grassroots was taken into consideration, while elections at the branch level are underway nationwide," said the central committee.
The committee added that it is "absolutely necessary" for Gerakan to embark on a new political journey with freedom, empowerment and an assertion in pursuing what the party believes is best for Malaysia and Malaysians.
"The decision is in line with the new aspirations, needs and demands of the people post-GE14, we decided that Gerakan must chart a new direction to sustain ourselves and continue our struggle," added the central committee.
"We will cooperate with like-minded parties, individuals and groups in the national interest to uphold and defend the Federal Constitution, rule of law and democracy of Malaysia, we are most committed to preserving the Malaysian way of life as we know and we want collectively as Malaysians," said the central committee.
BN had ruled Malaysia for 61 years since independence until its defeat last month.
The number of seats held by BN in Parliament is expected to remain at 57 despite Gerakan's departure as the party did not clinch a victory in any of the seats it contested in the May election.
But the move leaves the coalition with only three of its original alliance members – Umno, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) – along with possibly the small MyPPP party, down from the 13 it had previously.
The MyPPP, previously known as the People's Progressive Party, is embroiled in a power struggle, with its president M Kayveas announcing on May 19 that it was exiting the BN. However, his other supreme council members have disputed this, leaving its status within the coalition in doubt.
The BN coalition was founded in 1973, after the 1969 general elections saw its predecessor, the Alliance Party, suffering many defeats to the opposition. After the deadly May 13 racial riots that same year, then prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein wanted to bring national unity and stability by getting the opposition parties such as Gerakan, the MyPPP and the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to join a grand coalition
But 45 years later, the BN led by Tun Razak's son, Datuk Seri Najib, succumbed to its worst defeat ever at the May vote.
The first party to leave BN after the defeat was Upko in Sabah, which joined up with PH parties Warisan, the Democratic Action Party and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat to take over the state government.
Within the first week after the elections, three other BN parties in Sabah - the Liberal Democratic Party, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah - all announced they were leaving the coalition.
On June 12, Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg announced that Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Sarawak United People's Party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak and the Progressive Democratic Party would also leave BN to form their own state-based Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition.
There were also reports that former Sabah chief minister Musa Aman and other Sabah Umno members may be getting ready to form a state-based coalition called Gabungan Bersatu, possibly with PBS.