BN as good as gone, says Nazri

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional (BN) is "as good as gone", following the departure of all its component parties in Sarawak, ending its decades-long rule in the state.

This was the view of Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz when Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) announced their pull-out from the coalition with immediate effect.

The Umno leader said he welcomed the move by his Sarawak counterparts and even suggested that it is time for the coalition to make some bold changes following its defeat in the May 9 general election.

"BN is no longer strong like it used to be, and in times like this, we must be brave in making changes or take drastic steps, probably something similar to what former premier the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein did after the general election in 1969," Nazri said.

He pointed out that Razak had then replaced the Alliance Party with BN by inviting former opposition political parties such as Gerakan and the People's Progressive Party to merge after Alliance gained less than half the popular vote.

Nazri, who is Padang Rengas MP, said there will be no coming back for BN, especially after three of its main component parties – MCA, MIC and Gerakan – were annihilated in the recent polls.

"It might be a good thing to dissolve BN now and have Umno go it alone in Peninsular Malaysia."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is on a three-day visit to Japan, said the government would now have stronger backing in Parliament following the support pledged by the four Sarawak parties.

The four parties had made a unanimous decision at the state BN supreme council meeting in Kuching chaired by Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Abang Openg today.

Abang Johari said all four parties have also agreed to form a new coalition of Sarawak-based parties called Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), and the pact will cooperate and collaborate with the federal government.

"The decision was made in the interest of the people and the state, above all else," he added.

Meanwhile, Parti Amanah Negara vice-president Datuk Mujahid Yusuf Rawa said this marks the end of the era of BN's old politics, with the theme of race and religion replaced by a more inclusive form of politics that is issue-based and represents new hope.

"We in Pakatan had always hoped that the safe deposits of BN in Sarawak and Sabah can be challenged and now it has happened in both states."

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who is one of the party's vice-presidents, sees the formation of GPS as a pre-emptive move to prevent Pakatan Harapan (PH) from taking over Sarawak in the state election, due in 2020.

Chow said since PH was now in federal power, there was an inclination by many quarters to leave BN.

"Nonetheless, I am leaving it to the PH parties in Sarawak such as my DAP counterparts in Sarawak to better size up what has happened."

BN had won all previous Sarawak state elections since the coalition's inception in 1973, with the state also being considered a fixed deposit for BN at the federal level, contributing a huge number of seats in Parliament.