Sarawak abandons Barisan Nasional ship


PETALING JAYA: All four Sarawak Barisan Nasional component parties have abandoned ship, leaving the coalition in tatters and further strengthening Pakatan Harapan’s position in Parliament.

The decision by PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP to leave the coalition following Barisan’s defeat in the May 9 polls means that Barisan is now left with 57 seats in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat, compared with 116 seats held by Pakatan MPs.

If all former Barisan parties in Sabah and Sarawak, as well as other Pakatan allies and Sabah STAR were to support the ruling coalition in a Parliament vote, Pakatan may be able to muster up to 147 votes, just one short of the minimum 148 needed for a two-thirds majority.

A two-thirds majority is required if Pakatan wants to seek an amendment to the Federal Constitution.

So far, all the parties that have left Barisan have not committed to supporting Pakatan except on specific issues of mutual interest.

The shift in the balance of power following the pullout of the four parties, which have a total of 19 seats, have dimmed hopes of a strong Opposition.

Aside from a weakened Barisan, Pakatan has two friendly parties in Sabah, namely Parti Warisan Sabah which has eight seats and Upko – a former Barisan component party – which has one seat.

Three other Sabah Barisan component members – PBS, PBRS and LDP – left the coalition earlier after GE14 and remain independent for now.

Both PBS and PBRS have one seat each in Parliament, while LDP did not win any.

There is also another Opposition party – Sabah STAR – which has one seat in Parliament, but has not directly aligned itself to Pakatan.

The departure of PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP means all of Barisan’s Sabah and Sarawak-based parties have pulled out from the coalition.

This ends the legacy of Barisan, which has always had representation from the two Borneo states since its inception in 1974 to replace the Alliance. The two states were considered a “fixed deposit” for Barisan in the past.

Barisan is now left with just five parties, all of which are peninsula-­based, namely Umno, MCA, MIC, Gerakan and MyPPP.

But the status of MyPPP is unclear. Its ousted president Tan Sri M. Kayveas has declared that the party is no longer with Barisan, while the current leadership says it still is.

Umno, MCA and MIC were the original founding members of the Alliance, which started off as an ad hoc arrangement between Umno and MCA to contest the Kuala Lumpur municipal council in 1952. MIC joined the Alliance in 1954.

Sarawak Chief Minister and PBB president Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, in announcing the decision to pull out yesterday, said the four parties would form a new coalition of Sarawak-based parties known as Gabungan Parti Sarawak.

GPS will not join Pakatan, but will “cooperate and collaborate” with the Federal Government for national interest and state rights based on the Federal Constitution and the Federa­tion of Malaysia.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Pakatan now had strong support in Parliament.

“They are not Pakatan members, but they have pledged support for us. So now, we have very strong support in Parliament as even Tereng­ganu (which is run by PAS) has said it will support us,” he said.

MCA publicity spokesman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said the party’s decision on whether or not to leave Barisan would be made after the party held its polls.

“It is too premature to talk about quitting Barisan because both MCA and Umno will go through leadership changes in their upcoming party elections. The newly elected leaderships will decide thereafter.

“In the meantime, we are not abandoning the Barisan ship as our dissatisfaction was with the previous captain. Now that the respective captains have taken responsibility for the loss, we shall wait for the new leaders to navigate us,” Ti added.

Besides Pakatan, Barisan and GPS, Parliament has another bloc called Gagasan Sejahtera, which has 18 MPs from PAS.