PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional has lost its first major peninsula-based component party, days after suffering a setback when four Sarawak parties quit in a huff.
Gerakan followed up by dropping a bombshell yesterday, saying it had decided to sever ties with the former ruling coalition
With Gerakan’s quit move, Barisan, which entered GE14 with 13 parties, is now down to its original three Alliance partners – Umno, MCA and MIC.
The party’s central committee said the decision to quit was unanimously agreed to after “serious and comprehensive deliberation, reflection and consideration”.
“This follows political developments post-GE14,” it said in a statement.
Gerakan, which was originally founded as an Opposition party in 1968, joined the Alliance in 1972 before Barisan was formed two years later. The party was wiped out in GE14, losing all the 11 parliamentary and 31 state seats it contested, with party president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong thrashed in the Teluk Intan parliamentary contest.
The central committee said the sentiments of the grassroots had been considered, and that elections at the branch level were underway nationwide.
The committee said it was “absolutely necessary” for Gerakan to embark on a new political journey with freedom, empowerment and an emphasis on pursuing what the party believed was best for all 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,” it added.
The central committee said the party was committed to preserving the Malaysian way of life and would cooperate with other groups in their efforts to do so.
“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,” it said.
Party vice-president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau, when contacted, said the consolidation of the party was the most urgent and important task at hand.
“We need to build up the spirit of Gerakan members,” he said, adding that party leaders would have to explain to the grassroots on the electoral loss and try to motivate them.
Meetings at the branch level would have started since Friday, he said, adding this would give members the chance to bring up issues that needed to be addressed and suggestions for the future direction of the party.
The party would hold its National Delegates’ Conference on Nov 17, he said. However, it was still too early to say if he would be contesting.
Gerakan’s announcement comes after four Sarawak parties exited Barisan on June 12 to form Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
The four are Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu, Parti Rakyat Sarawak, Sarawak United Peoples’ Party and the Progressive Democratic Party.
It was also reported that former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and other Sabah Umno members were getting ready to form a state-based coalition called Gabungan Bersatu, possibly with Parti Bersatu Sabah.
MCA and MIC reacted calmly to Gerakan’s announcement, saying they respected its decision, while Umno said it needed to study the matter.