The rise and fall of Perikatan Nasional?


THE Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition could be facing an existential threat in the aftermath of Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Cabinet resignation yesterday.

The coalition, formed on Feb 23, 2020, had Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (Pas) as its founding members.

It later expanded pre-Sabah by-election with the entry of Parti Solidariti Tanahair-ku, Sabah Progressive Party and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia.

Umno, which had the most members in the Cabinet, had repeatedly stated that it is not a part of PN and would pull out support from Bersatu when the general election (GE) comes.

The Malay-based party had said it would continue its political cooperation with Pas in the upcoming GE.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia geostrategist Assoc Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said PN’s survival is largely depending on whether Pas would want to stay put in the coalition.

“Umno’s pullout does not mean anything for PN as there are still Umno MPs who support the coalition. I think individual MPs are not more important here than organisational support.

“Pas’ decision will determine whether PN would still be intact,” Azmi told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Azmi said Pas may likely return to Muafakat Nasional (MN) to achieve some political benefits, given the current development.

“Will Umno accept MN? I think Umno would need Pas for the next 15th GE. It has been proven that people could accept MN outfits.

“If Pas thinks long-term strategy, it might abandon PN. Hence PN would automatically be dysfunctional,” he said.

Muhyiddin’s rise to power was questioned by political observers and foes, as it was never put to test in the Dewan Rakyat.

Although he survived a series of political onslaught, including the tabling of Budget 2021 last year, Muhyiddin acceded to losing support after some Umno MPs withdrew their support for him.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Ghazali Shafie Graduate School of Government dean Assoc Prof Dr Rusdi Omar said PN could survive if the leaders and component parties take the high ground and put the best interests of the people and the country first ahead of individual’s gain.

He said the period of Muhyiddin being the caretaker PM now would be the best time for him to get to know the real “friends or foes”.

Rusdi said the fall of PN stemmed from the same issue to the then-Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration, where a PM from a minority party in the coalition led the government.

“PN could survive if it puts aside individual parties’ interests and really worked for the people and the country.

“It faces the same thing as PH back then, which were internal conflicting interests and horse-trading,” Rusdi told TMR.

He said a stable government requires a strong leader from a majority component party, otherwise, the same predicament might be happening again.

“Any coalition shall be led by a majority party. If not, it might survive, but not for a long time. It depends on its leadership characteristics.”


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