Arfa Yunus, NST
THE political sphere is rattled by claims about an effort to form the so-called Pakatan Nasional (PN) comprising Umno, Pas and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).
Umno has been avoiding questions on the alleged cooperation, with its leaders dismissing it as a rumour, although Pas has made clear its support for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.
After the Umno Supreme Council meeting on Friday, the party made a curious statement where it confirmed that its president, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, did inform the council about the country’s “latest political situation”.
One would assume that Zahid was talking about PN during the meeting, following the release of an audio clip by recently-sacked Umno leader Datuk Lokman Noor Adam.
GETTING THE NUMBERS
Sources in Putrajaya said discussions between the three parties were not new.
“There were prior discussions. Actually, it’s a done deal. Right now, the leaders are only looking at what’s next: is a merger possible or should they just have an informal cooperation?” one source said.
If this is true, one can conclude that everyone is chasing after that magic number — 112 — the number of seats in the Dewan Rakyat enough to form a government with a simple majority.
This will not happen without the participation of leaders and members of parliament from Sabah and Sarawak.
It should not be a problem for PN to get the numbers in Sabah as Umno, Bersatu and Parti Warisan Sabah are strong in the state, but Sarawak could give them a headache.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak is not willing to back PN because, to the party, the issue is the “peninsula’s problem”.
However, the friendship between Dr Mahathir, who is Bersatu chairman, and former Sarawak chief minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud is not a secret, and the latter still carries a lot of weight in the Borneo state.
“Taib could help Dr Mahathir because, in Malaysian politics, there’s no such thing as being retired,” said an Umno insider.
Getting support from Indian-based parties would not be difficult since groups like Makkal Sakti, the Malaysian Indian United Party and Parti Punjabi Malaysia, are collectively stronger than MIC.
However, when it comes to getting support from the Chinese community, relying on MCA is not enough.
Another Umno insider was confident that this was the reason why Dr Mahathir and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali went to Gerakan’s open house last month. Is this a sign of endorsement of the latter?
“Dr Mahathir is getting fed up with DAP’s and (PKR president Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim’s antics. We’ve all heard about the arguments in cabinet meetings. Anyone will be riled up about the ridiculous things DAP leaders bring up in there.
“Yes, DAP has a strong Chinese support but the Chinese community cares about people who can champion two matters close to their hearts: education and business opportunities.”
Perlis has Umno’s Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, Penang has Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Marzuki Yahya and Umno’s Datuk Seri Reezal Merican, while Kedah is secure under Dr Mahathir.
In Perak, there are two figures to look for — former menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu. In Selangor, PN has Azmin, PKR vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin and, most importantly, Umno Supreme Council member Tan Sri Noh Omar.
“Noh has been doing work for Umno in Selangor and his grassroots support is solid,” a Bersatu source said.
In Melaka, the significant players are two former chief ministers — Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam and Datuk Seri Idris Haron.
However, their presence is not enough; surprisingly, Bersatu’s Datuk Seri Redzuan Yusof, famously known as the “flying car minister”, is the man touted to be favoured by Dr Mahathir.
A Bersatu division leader said Redzuan is the first full minister appointed from Melaka since Tun Abdul Ghafar Baba, who was deputy prime minister from 1986 to 1993.
“Pak Wan (Redzuan) has considerable grassroots support.”
Johor should be a cinch with Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former Johor menteri besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin around as their strong Malay political ties are sufficient.
The same goes for Pahang with an unlikely figure who has been under the radar for a while — former menteri besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
“Adnan is grateful to Dr Mahathir for many reasons, while (current Pahang Menteri Besar) Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail and PKR’s Datuk Seri Fauzi Abdul Rahman have no problem gathering support.
“But Bersatu needs someone from its side to represent the party. Based on the political scene in Pahang, its state secretary, Mohd Yazid Yunus, could be that person,” said a source.
It should not be a problem for PN to settle in Terengganu. It is a fact that Pas leaders and members are wala’ (loyal) to their president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who is supportive of Dr Mahathir’s leadership.
Kelantan has Bersatu’s Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Umno’s Tan Sri Annuar Musa; Mustapa especially is a well-respected figure on both sides of the political divide.
However, some Bersatu and Umno grassroots members are unhappy with the possible collaboration, with the perception that Dr Mahathir and Anwar have “caused” Malay disunity.
“I don’t want to hear any leader mentioning the idea of PN,” one Bersatu member said.
An Umno member said: “Whoever works with Dr Mahathir and Anwar, they are damaging this nation.”
Nevertheless, what caused these leaders to want to form a cooperation?
A Putrajaya official said it was due to the “impatience” showed by Anwar’s supporters who want to see him as prime minister pronto.
“And it is obviously because of DAP too. Everyone knows what’s happening in cabinet meetings. They can deny all they want but in politics, even the walls talk.”
Source : Malaysia Today
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