KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Sarawak’s new ruling alliance which abandoned Barisan Nasional (BN) yesterday is a different political entity and should not be confused with the federal coalition anymore, state Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg said.
He rejected the description of the new Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as being akin to “old wine in a new bottle”, saying the four-party alliance now has more independence.
“We will be different from BN because we are a bit independent,” he was quoted saying by local daily The Borneo Post.
He said GPS will not seek membership into Pakatan Harapan (PH), clarifying that the Sarawak alliance will cooperate with the former coalition which is currently running the country, out of national interest.
Yesterday, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) unanimously decided to leave BN to form GPS.
In a separate article today, The Borneo Post also reported PRS president Tan Sri James Masing saying his party will ensure that the GPS coalition is meaningful to Sarawak-based parties, where the bigger parties will not control the smaller parties and every party must have equal say.
“PRS will make sure that GPS will take into account the voice of all parties and that it must be a meaningful coalition and not like Umno before.
“That is why BN lost because Umno was always in control,” he was quoted saying, referring to the 14th general election results where BN lost federal power for the first time in history.
He said the four parties decided to quit BN as the brand is “not saleable” anymore.
He also said the Sarawak ruling parties have to change themselves very soon in order to become relevant to Sarawak in the next state election, saying: “In two years’ time we have to be ready for it.”
In a separate report by local daily New Straits Times (NST), BN secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said he is now waiting for the coalition’s acting chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to return from his Muslim pilgrimage.
“I am waiting for him to return and we will discuss what to do. After that if BN has to be disbanded then it will be. What to do?” he was quoted telling NST, adding that BN cannot do anything if the four parties had decided to quit.
“If this is our fate after serving the government for more than 60 years and the people think we are not relevant we will look into what Umno can do on its own or form another coalition,” he added.