KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) said on Thursday (Mar 4) that it will focus on improving cooperation with its partners in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, including Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and other regional and smaller parties.
This came after a letter from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to Bersatu on Feb 26, indicating that it will not cooperate with Bersatu for the next general elections. However, UMNO said it would continue to be aligned with the PN coalition until the Malaysian parliament is dissolved.
In a press statement issued after a party supreme council meeting, Bersatu’s secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin said Bersatu regarded UMNO's decision seriously, as this would have major implications for future cooperation between the two parties and PN.
"Bersatu will focus on strengthening ties with PN partners, that is PAS, the State Reform Party (STAR) and Sabah People's Party (SAPP) and Gerakan, based on honest struggle and sincerity to the people to win the coming general elections," he said.
He added that from Bersatu's perspective, the PN government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was still intact and functioning.
READ: Malaysia PM Muhyiddin reiterates that he will advise king to dissolve parliament once pandemic is over
The party also stated that this decision had been reached after considering grassroots viewpoints and weighing the pros and cons of staying in government while the COVID-19 pandemic was a major issue.
UMNO, which became an opposition party after the 2018 general elections, offered its lawmakers’ support for Mr Muhyiddin’s PN coalition, enabling UMNO to return to government after the Pakatan Harapan government collapsed in February 2020.
However, ties between UMNO and Bersatu have frayed in recent months. In January, 189 out of UMNO’s 191 divisions nationwide had rejected working with Bersatu.
READ: Motion tabled for UMNO to cut ties with Bersatu in the next general election, says party supreme council
In addition, two UMNO lawmakers had publicly announced withdrawing their support for the PN government, before Malaysia’s current state of emergency was announced by Mr Muhyiddin, to allow the government to focus on the COVID-19 health crisis.
Although parliament has been suspended until August, the king released a statement that it could convene during the emergency period, based on the prime minister’s advice.
On Wednesday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Takiyuddin Hassan reiterated that there would be no parliamentary sittings during the state of emergency.