Asia

Umno leader mulls bringing in opposition parties into govt to stabilise Malaysian politics

KUALA LUMPUR – A top leader of Malaysia’s ruling coalition Umno has proposed a “grand coalition” that includes current opposition parties, to rule the country together as a means to bring stability to the country’s politics.

Tan Sri Annuar Musa, secretary-general of Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN), said parties in the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition should reach out across the political divide to bring in other opposition groups, including one led by former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Under a Facebook posting titled “Malaysia needs a grand coalition”, Mr Annuar wrote: “For too long our politics have centred around two or three personalities, and not on policy struggles. Many times our national politics have be dragged down to defend or fight against an individual. Enough is enough.”

He added: “I would like to organise the formation of a Grand Coalition involving at least 12,13 political parties.”

Mr Annuar said that just as Umno and its two allies in PN – Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) – are forming a Muslim tripartite front called Mufakat Nasional, other parties should be brought into the government.

It isn’t clear if Mr Annuar is floating his own proposal or whether he has the backing of Umno or Muafakat to raise the idea.

His thoughts appeared to dovetail with those of Tun Dr Mahathir, who on Sunday (Nov 15) said that to survive the Covid-19 and economic crises, politicians should work towards a “unity government”.

“If we want to reduce politics, we must put aside party matters, we must prioritise the country,” he told The Malaysian Insight online news. It wasn’t the first time that Dr Mahathir has raised the issue of a “unity government” involving both sides of the political divide.

Dr Mahathir has been seen in recent pictures meeting with his former bitter nemesis, Umno adviser Razaleigh Hamzah. This has raised speculation that the two veteran politicians are planning something together.

Last month, just hours after opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim met the Malaysian King to claim he has the numbers to form a new government, Tengku Razaleigh raise eyebrows by meeting Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah privately.

BN is the biggest coalition in PN and comprises four political parties. BN is led by Umno, with 39 MPs, with its other members being the Malaysian Chinese Association (two MPs), the Malaysian Indian Congress (one MP) and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (one MP).

Mr Annuar in his Facebook posting suggested that the government should consider working with parties that do not support Pakatan Harapan (PH), which is led by Datuk Seri Anwar.

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“Those parties which are not part of, or that reject PH can be brought in,” he wrote. “What is important is we leave behind politics linked to personalities, and we boost politics that unite the ummah (Muslims), prioritises stability, national endurance and the needs of the people,” Mr Annuar wrote.

He mentioned as possible partners Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (four MPs), Parti Warisan Sabah (eight MPs), youth party Muda (one MP) and several non-Muslim parties that have no Parliament seats.

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