GPS Backs Dr M as PM but Warned Not to Form Coalition with Umno, PAS

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Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which has 18 MPs, is backing Dr Mahathir Mohamad to continue as prime minister, the state ruling coalition’s secretary-general Alexander Nanta Linggi said.

GPS’s support was officially conveyed by Sarawak Chief Minister and GPS president Abang Johari Openg to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Dr Mahathir in an audience with the king at the palace on Sunday.

“Our stand is for Dr Mahathir to continue leading the country,” said Linggi, who is also Kapit MP, adding the coalition was unanimous in its decision.

GPS is made up of four Sarawak parties: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the lead party; Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS); Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).

They used to belong to Barisan Nasional (BN) but pulled out of the coalition when the BN was defeated in the 2018 general election.

Meanwhile in Putrajaya, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg was seen arriving at the Prime Minister’s Office just before 4pm, where Dr Mahathir is back at work on his first day as interim prime minister.

Bernama

At Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur, GPS MPs were seen arriving at the palace, where all MPs are due to have personal interviews with the king on who they support as PM.

Among those seen arriving between 3.25pm and 3.30pm were Nancy Shukry (Batang Sadong), Fadillah Yusof (Putrajaya) and Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (Santubong).

Linggi’s statement only made reference to supporting Dr Mahathir as prime minister and not joining any particular bloc.

The Dayak National Congress (DNC) has warned GPS against aligning itself with Maufakat Nasional – which comprises PAS and Umno – over concerns about the Islamist PAS.

Solidarity Anak Sarawak (SAS) leader Peter John Jaban today also expressed concern over reports that GPS is considering a coalition with Umno and PAS to form the federal government.

Jaban, a human rights activist, urged Abang Johari to consider carefully how this new coalition will be perceived in a multi-cultural and multi-racial Sarawak.

Sulok Tawie

“Umno and PAS were defeated in the last general election in a widely acknowledged rejection of both corruption and race politics and a call for reform,” Jaban said.

He added people put an end to decades of Umno rule, in which race and religion were used as a political tool to divide rather than unite, and corruption had grown to epic proportions.

“These two parties lost at the ballot box and there is no other way to interpret the events. They lost, plain and simple,” he said.

Jaban noted that Umno president Datuk Seri Zahid Ahmad Hamidi is currently facing 47 charges of corruption relating to public funds.

“For this alone, he should be deemed unfit to hold public office in the opposition, let alone in the government itself,” he said.

Jaban said Hadi Awang is the head of an Islamist party which blocked the ratification of the International Convention on all forms of Racial Discrimination and campaigned only recently for the implementation of hudud law in Malaysia.

“How can Abang Johari consider making a coalition with these characters and then return to Sarawak to contest a state election using the message of Sarawak’s great racial and religious harmony?” he asked.

“Sarawakians are, indeed, different. We do not appreciate race politics and we live in an atmosphere of religious tolerance. We also maintain a separation between federal and regional concerns,” he said.

He stressed any coalition with the losers in the last federal election will be a strong message to the electorate of Sarawak that GPS is willing to subvert the democratic process and to risk the state’s racial and religious balance.

“While we realise that there is currently a drive for greater autonomy and the relationship with the federal government is central to that, we are all necessarily and rightly judged by the company we choose to keep,” he added.

Jaban noted that GPS underwent a significant and largely successful rebranding to distance itself from the fallout from the widespread corruption within the previous BN administration in Putrajaya.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari’s office stressed today that the GPS chairman did not finalise any agreement with any political party in Peninsular Malaysia for the purpose of forming the federal government.

The Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said the statement by Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) that Abang Johari had gone to Kuala Lumpur to finalise the agreement, especially with Umno and PAS amidst speculations of forming the federal government, was false.

PSB, led by former International Trade and e-Commerce Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, said GPS abandoned BN immediately after the general election in 2018 following the victory for Pakatan Harapan, but when this opportunity arose to get back together in power, GPS had no hesitation flying all its MPs to Kuala Lumpur to meet up with their erstwhile partners.

The CMO also denied that a photograph of Abang Johari with PAS leaders, including Hadi Awang, was taken while he was in Kuala Lumpur.

It explained the photograph was taken in Kuching when he received a courtesy call by the PAS leaders at his office.