KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the interests of Malays were never compromised in the cooperation agreement among political parties forming the unity government.
“When the agreement was signed by the various (political) parties, the matter was never compromised and was even deemed as the first foundation of the agreement not only for now, but for the long term,” he said in a live broadcast interview programme on NRChannel TV on Tuesday night (Dec 27).
These interests include Islam, Malay special rights, the status of Bahasa Melayu as the national language and the sovereignty of the royal institution.
Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, said these elements were the prime concern of the coalition when negotiations were held with Pakatan Harapan (PH).
He added that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim had agreed to identify similarities in the manifestos of all parties in the unity government so that their cooperation would benefit the people.
On Dec 16, the leaders of five political coalitions and parties in Mr Anwar’s government signed an MOU to support his administration.
The MOU was jointly signed by Mr Anwar who is also the PH chairman, Ahmad Zahid, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman Abang Johari Openg, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) chairman Hajiji Noor and Parti Warisan (Warisan) president Shafie Apdal.
It was also signed by the secretaries-general of the respective parties.
The MOU, among other things, stated that all parties in the respective coalitions should vote to support the prime minister in all matters related to confidence and supply, and matters that can affect the legitimacy of the government.
On being together with PH, Ahmad Zahid said coalitions in the unity government need to move forward and work as a team as long as they were united in thoughts, values and deeds.
According to him, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and BN’s aim is to create political stability and ensure the people’s prosperity within the new national political alignment.
Ahmad Zahid added that he would explain the new political landscape in the country to UMNO members in further detail through a policy speech during the UMNO general assembly scheduled to take place from Jan 11 to 14.
Ahmad Zahid also said the partnership with PH was better for UMNO and BN’s long-term struggle, as compared to working with Perikatan Nasional (PN).
"In short, the (UMNO) supreme council decided that with PN, there would be more harm as (PN) could contest in the same areas we contest … areas with large numbers of Malay voters.
"We will surely fight in the same arena. We see from the aspect of political analysis and we conducted several projections that there was a huge potential for us to win back the areas in which we lost votes. We can regain the potential,” he said.
MAHATHIR INDOCTRINATED UMNO TO HATE DAP: ZAHID
Meanwhile, when asked about the public anger over UMNO’s cooperation with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) after GE15, Ahmad Zahid claimed that the former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had indoctrinated UMNO members into hating the latter.
In the live interview on Tuesday, he said: “He (Dr Mahathir) was the one who indoctrinated us for 22 years and portrayed a negative picture of the party.”
On Nov 29, after the election, Ahmad Zahid had previously said that the rejection of any cooperation with PH component parties, including DAP, was only during the GE15 campaigning period.
According to him, BN had different considerations when it agreed to work alongside PH, including how the king had decreed that a unity government should be formed given the political impasse then.
He added that the cooperation with PH did not mean that UMNO has compromised on its principles.
On Dec 19, Mr Anwar secured a vote of confidence during his first parliament session as the country’s top leader, confirming the legitimacy of his leadership and the unity government he leads. The vote of confidence was done via a voice vote only, with no call for a bloc vote.