KUALA LUMPUR - Two of the three founding member parties of Malaysia's former ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) said they are looking at forming a new alliance and are "moving on" from Umno.
Leaders of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) said after a meeting on Monday (March 4) that they were left with no choice but to move on after recent "racial" remarks by an Umno leader, The Star newspaper reported.
MCA president Wee Ka Siong and MIC president S. A. Vigneswaran said in a joint statement that the MCA, on Dec 2 at its annual general assembly, had resolved to push for the dissolution of BN and forge a new alliance.
"We urged the Barisan supreme council to hold a meeting immediately to decide on the fate of the coalition," said the two leaders.
The United Malays National Organisation (Umno), MCA and MIC formed Parti Perikatan or Alliance Party in 1957.
In 1973, this morphed into BN, which had 13 member parties at its height.
Perikatan, and later BN, ruled Malaysia from independence, for 61 years, until last May when it was toppled from power by the Pakatan Harapan alliance.
BN today is left with only the three original founding members after 10 other component parties defected.
The alliance is wracked with tensions over its direction.
Umno leaders are keen to work closely with fellow Malay Muslim opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
But PAS' vision to turn Malaysia into a strict Islamic state have alienated the MCA and MIC, which protect the rights of ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, respectively.
The victory of the loose Umno-PAS alliance in two recent by-elections - in Cameron Highlands, Pahang, and Semenyih, Selangor - have made the bond between these parties stronger.
Furthermore, leaders of the MCA and MIC said recent "racial" comments by senior Umno leader Nazri Aziz, who is also secretary-general of BN, have further damaged ties within BN.
During the Semenyih by-election campaign, Datuk Seri Nazri said non-Malays should not question Malay privileges, as the non-Malays also enjoyed special privileges such as vernacular schools.
Mr Nazri also questioned the appointments of non-Malays as the PH government's Attorney-General, Chief Justice and Finance Minister, adding that Malay rights should be defended at all costs, local media reported.
Mr Nazri, asked about the MCA and MIC announcement on Monday, told The Star: “They are free to find new alliances and move on with the other parties that have left Barisan after the 14th General Election. “I do not think it is a loss.”
Umno has 38 MPs in the federal Parliament, according to the institution's website. The MCA and MIC each has one seat.
But there is a twist in the BN infighting - instead of leaving BN, the MCA and MIC are plotting to sack Umno from the coalition.
"Why should MCA and MIC quit BN? We can expel Umno from BN because we are two parties while Umno is just one," a senior BN party source told Malaysiakini news site.