SHAH ALAM – Opposition parties can band together under the name “Barisan Rakyat” (People’s Front), but they need to collaborate quickly for the next general election, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
Muhyiddin, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) president, said his party remained open to working with all Opposition parties for the polls and had already inked a deal with federal Opposition pact Pakatan Harapan.
He said PPBM was currently also in talks with Opposition parties that were not part of Pakatan Harapan in a bid to form a coalition covering all Opposition parties.
“This political group that is joined by all opposition parties, we could name it maybe as Barisan Rakyat to fight Barisan Nasional.
“Don’t wait for long to form a partnership. We must be serious! We must have a sense of urgency. Because time is not on our side. The people want to see our unity, then only they will have confidence that we can form a better government,” he said in his speech at PPBM’s official launch here last night.
Earlier in his speech, Muhyiddin said that Malaysians are ready for a change in government but wanted to see the Opposition parties unite first, adding that all the Opposition parties that have their own support base would need to join forces in order to win the 14th general election that must be held by 2018, as none would succeed by going solo.
“For that, it is important that all Opposition parties form a political coalition that is well-established, if possible as fast as possible. Don’t wait for just before elections, as the people won’t be confident in us.
“We have to quickly solve problems, issues about one-on-one contests, issues about a single logo, issues about allocation of seats, issues about who is the country’s leader and so on, these are issues that people want an answer on and we should give answers earlier,” he said.
“We know that when Umno intensifies its attacks on opposition parties, it means elections is getting nearer. I mention this because I was formerly the Barisan Nasional election director, so I know a little of their strategy,” he said.
He listed what Malaysians can expect if the opposition parties are voted into power, with the main issues to be economic matters such as a review of the Goods and Services Tax policy, taking measures to control the rise in living costs and to seek to boost the public’s income.
Among other things, Muhyiddin said that such a new government would also carry out institutional reforms to improve integrity among civil servants and government leaders, besides also putting restrictions on the prime minister’s powers to improve accountability.
Citing a hadith or Islamic teaching attributed to Prophet Muhammad, Muhyiddin went on to say that seeking for a change of corrupt leadership was a “religious obligation”, instead of being merely a political demand.
When asked about the proposal for Barisan Rakyat, PPBM deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said that the party hoped to discuss several points with Pakatan Harapan, including this name, the logo and their common manifesto.
Mukhriz said the party’s negotiations with PAS on election collaboration was a “work in progress”, but said he was unable to provide an estimate on when talks would be concluded with PAS.
“I can’t say for sure but the sooner the better of course, because we don’t know, I mean Najib might pull a quick one and dissolve Parliament before the dates we expect,” he told reporters when met after the event.
“Well we have an internal timeline, but it’s not something we make public, but rest assured that we are pushing ahead and so far the several discussions we have with them has been on time, so we hope we will get something really significant hopefully in the near future,” he said when asked for the deadline of the PPBM-PAS talks.
When asked if PPBM was seeking political cooperation or a political coalition with PAS, Mukhriz said there were several options that are under discussion.
“That is something we are discussing actually. We have got a few options, so we understand that there may be some issues with regards to the other parties in Pakatan Harapan with PAS particularly, so we have to find some formula that works for all of us,” he said.
Pakatan Harapan has reportedly given PPBM an extended deadline until the middle of this month to conclude talks with PAS.
PAS has flatly refused to work with Pakatan Harapan’s DAP and Parti Amanah Negara, increasing the possibility of multi-corner fights between them and Barisan Nasional.
Earlier this week, Pakatan Harapan chief secretary Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the pact was still in talks with PAS to ensure a one-on-one fight against the BN, but also said it should be ready for a “Plan B” if the Islamist party decided against joining PPBM and the pact.