Three things we learned from: Perikatan’s inaugural convention

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

SERDANG, Aug 28 — Perikatan Nasional (PN) held its maiden convention yesterday, amid rumours of an impending next general election (GE15).

As the day drew on, it appeared that the coalition consisting of five political parties — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), PAS, Parti Gerakan Tanah Air (Gerakan), Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) — was far from being on the same page for many issues.

Following its conclusion, here are Malay Mail’s three main takeaways from the event:

PN still undecided about whether to go solo or form alliances

It was clear today that the coalition led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been dilly-dallying over whether to work with other political coalitions.

Despite jibes and jeers aimed at political rivals receiving roaring cheers from the 1,300 delegates who attended the convention at Malaysia Agricultural Exposition Park (Maeps) here, Muhyiddin did not rule out the possibility of cooperating with other political parties or coalitions, even Barisan Nasional (BN).

“The combination with BN is difficult to say. There is an ‘if’. I don’t want to say that we rule it out due to the uncertain and dynamic situation... the turmoil and division in Umno. Politics is a game of possibilities,” he told reporters during a press conference marking the end of the convention.

PN “poster boy” position still up for grabs

Despite being named repeatedly as their prime ministerial candidate by leaders of the coalition’s component parties, Muhyiddin said that he was willing to cede the title to a younger leader.

The 75-year-old former prime minister expressed his gratitude towards the leaders who named him as PN’s “poster boy” but said he was willing to make way for other leaders who are capable with right qualities.

“For me, it is okay, but the most important thing is (the candidate) must be experienced, the right background. We can see there are a lot of countries with a young head of government.

“But is Malaysia ready for that? We cannot say yes or no to that yet, but why not? After all, it cannot always be the same face,” he said with a chuckle when fielding reporters’ questions during the press conference.

He was responding to one of the delegates who said a younger candidate should be considered as the next prime minister to set PN apart from other coalitions.

Uncertainty looms over the future of PN

From its logo and seats to building alliances, the coalition that celebrated its second anniversary has no clear path going into GE15.

However, it is clear that Bersatu is leaning towards working with Pakatan Harapan (PH) rather than BN as the latter, particularly its lynchpin party Umno, is helmed by leaders with ongoing court proceedings.

This perspective was confirmed by Muhyiddin who labelled BN as PN’s main political rival riddled with kleptocrats.

“Prior to this, I talked to a few parties about possible cooperation. However, they might have thought that the election is probably still far away, and that’s why they decided to leave it be.

“But if they think that the election is near, I’m open to discussion. We know that our main rival is BN. All the corruption, power abuse from BN, this is not good for the country,” he said in apparent response to the coalition’s Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari’s remarks on the possibility of negotiations with a “changed Umno”.

Yesterday, the five-member PN coalition marked its second anniversary.

Some 1,300 delegates from Bersatu, PAS, Gerakan and Sabah-based entities SAPP and Star gathered at Maeps for what could be the coalition’s last major bash before GE15 is called.