More questions on Malaysia’s grand coalition

If PN’s future remains hanging in the balance, one can only imagine what will be in store for MPs who are without any party…

pic by BERNAMA

IT HAS finally happened. After weeks of courting and doublespeak, the president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has finally agreed to the union of his faction with the PAS-Umno’s Muafakat Nasional (MN) coalition.

Muhyiddin’s announcement over the weekend was made amid news of more Bersatu members leaving to join the new party, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air which was formed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad together with the sacked Bersatu leaders.

The decision to join MN, said Muhyiddin, was aimed at supporting Perikatan Nasional (PN) as “the grand coalition”. Was the decision to join MN necessary? Political analyst Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani seems to think so.

“It’s hard for Bersatu to survive alone, especially in GE15 (15th General Election),” he said.

Losing grassroots support to Pejuang does not help either. With MN, Bersatu has a chance to rely on PAS support base — whom he believes is more accommodating to Muhyiddin’s aspiration rather than Umno.

However, and to make matters more confusing, it is worth noting that Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) have repeatedly stated that they will not join PN.

Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said last month that it would instead focus on strengthening MN. It appears that Ahmad Zahid is not alone with his sentiment. Recently, fellow party leader Tan Sri Annuar Musa had also reiterated the Malay-based party’s refusal to be a part of the coalition.

For now, at least, there will be no more speculations on where Bersatu is heading. Still, being in MN does not necessarily make the party an equal partner to Umno, judging from reactions of Umno leaders itself.

Within hours after Muhyiddin’s announcement, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin issued what seems like a veiled warning to Bersatu.

“Umno’s participation in MN must not be used in pushing Umno to join PN. Being part of MN is very much different from being part of PN,” Mohamed Khaled wrote on his Facebook page.

Johor Umno Youth chief Mohd Hairi Mad Shah echoed similar sentiment, “reminding” Muhyiddin to not force PN upon the MN parties.

It is quite obvious for now that PN is taking a back seat than MN itself. Is this pact a marriage of convenience?

Asrul thinks so — until GE15, at least. He is adamant that PAS would not contest under the BN banner, so this is where PN comes into picture.

Still, it makes one wonder about the status of PN. Bersatu supreme council leader Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof said yesterday that the registration process of PN is underway. He also said that the Registrar of Society is finalising the matter.

With MN in the front seat and the outright rejection of Umno and BN to join PN, it does not hurt to ask again — what is PN? Who are, in fact, in this grand coalition?

Maybe, the answer can be found in Mohd Hairi’s remark yesterday: PN is a temporary coalition, only meant to “save” the federal administration from Pakatan Harapan (PH).

In other words, it is a polite way of describing a political pact among the involved parties to form a new government midway before the next GE.

One can only guess what PN will be in the next few years. What is quite clear though, is the fact that Umno is not ready to play second fiddle to anyone, especially when it holds most seats in the coalition.

One can only imagine the headache of seat allocations, especially when all three parties are vying for the same Malay-Islam demographics.

Muhyiddin had said in February this year that Bersatu decision’s to leave PH is meant to strengthen the party, despite the objection from Dr Mahathir.

It has been almost six months since the momentous decision was made and for many, safe for the premiership, Bersatu is losing more grounds, not only to its detractors, but worse, from within.

All said and done, if PN’s future remains hanging in the balance, one can only imagine what will be in store for MPs who are without any party…

Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.