Ku Li: Form unity government

KOTA BARU: Veteran Umno politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has discussed with PAS, DAP and PKR leaders the possibility of forming a national unity Federal Government as a way out of the current political and economic stalemate.

As a precedent, he cited former premier Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s Barisan Nasional model that came from the original Alliance coalition of Umno, MCA and MIC.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had sought appointments with the former Finance Minister.

According to Tengku Razaleigh, the three requested for the meeting to discuss a perceived national crisis reflected by low confidence in the existing political and economic situation.

Tengku Razaleigh said he had explored with them the possibility of formulating a minimum basis for a national front, a Government formed out of a sincere need for national unity.

He said a national unity government could be formed together with the Barisan as a coming together of all key players to cope with the new political developments in the country, brought on by higher expectations of the electorate and to cope with challenges in a globalised economy.

Tengku Razaleigh, who has drawn up plans to overcome the present economical and political stalemate, said he would discuss these with Umno members and the people over the coming weeks.

He said he was steadfast to his commitment in offering himself as a candidate for the Umno president’s post following the worst ever performance by Barisan in the March 8 general election.

The results saw Barisan lose its two-thirds majority in Parliament and four states, as well as fail to wrest back Kelantan.

Among the states lost, Penang and Selangor, are major contributors to the nation’s gross domestic product.

In a related development, Inde­pendent Pasir Mas MP Datuk Paduka Ibrahim Ali supports the idea of the proposal but had serious doubts as to whether it could be implemented today in comparison to 1974.

He said there would have to be huge compromises and he wondered whether the likes of Anwar, Lim, Abdul Hadi, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib, Sabah and Sarawak leaders would be able to accept that.

He added that the basis of a unity government must be integrity.

Sourced from The Star – 7th October ’08.

Plus a little more from Ku Li here.

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In my earlier posting titled ‘TRH speaketh‘, I alluded to the possibility of a unity government being formalised to break the political impasse between the BN and PR factions.

I have also previously advocated the creation of the Third Front by BN component parties (excluding UMNO if they continue to refuse democratic reforms within themselves or consensus building in the BN coalition itself) for the very purpose of collaborating with PR to form a grand coalition (albeit another terminology for national government) thereby having the majority mandate to establish the new federal government.

TRH’s announcement therefore provides the middle ground to be pursued by antipodal positions. Apart from the PR parties, elements from within the BN coalition may also be receptive to his proposal if a common platform can be agreed upon. If adversarial politics is tearing the nation apart, old school diplomacy must be given a chance to work its charm.

However, I have my doubts if he can convince UMNO to even consider his proposal because UMNO, by historical convention, have always assumed the BN leadership mantle through their larger contribution of MPs in parliament derived from high majority victories in the prevailing general elections.

As with the exception in 1969, BN is now facing a similar predicament of a reduced mandate to govern and UMNO seems incapable in providing firm leadership.

While others in the BN partnership are embracing democratic reforms such as a) Gerakan proposing a maximum two terms on their president and b) MCA planning  to sell their entire stake in MCIL to promote press freedom plus an increasing awareness by East Malaysian political parties to their constituencies’ aspirations, UMNO have instead buck the trend and kept its leadership transition exclusively in the hands of the privileged few.

By 3.30pm Wednesday, 8th October ’08, AAB will announce to the BN supreme council whether he will contest for the UMNO presidential post and if he does not, how much integrity can UMNO assume to have in comparison with their comrades in the BN coalition?

In agreeing to fast-track the UMNO leadership transition from June 2010 to March 2009, AAB is fast losing credibility as the BN chairman simply because his coalition partners were never consulted nor informed as equal stakeholders.

If AAB decides to contest and win, he can still hand over the premiership to his number two with a certain degree of legitimacy. And by doing so, AAB can also sustain his current position until March ’09 when pushing for the JAC, strengthening the ACA, etc.

In other words, a lame duck non-contesting premier will not get the necessary support for these national reforms to be implemented.

AAB may yet go out in a blaze of glory when he said rather chillingly “Believe me, after a while some of them will drop out and in the end there may be only two, may be even only just one left” when responding to the matter of several candidates vying for the deputy president of UMNO. (Full report here)

Not bad for a bloke who probably got tired of getting kicked around.