MALAYSIA — “Forced marriages will not last long, ” Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob warned against the political coalition between the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and Pakatan Harapan (PH).
He also stressed that the coalition between UMNO and PH has to be done willingly, not only at leadership level, but has to be accepted by the grassroots of both coalitions willingly as well.
“It must be done willingly, not only at the leadership level but also at the grassroots level. If not, this will happen, and it may get worse.”
Ismail Sabri, who is also the former UMNO vice-president, made these remarks during an interview with local media at an event held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday (16 Apr).
“So, if a forced marriage happens without any feelings of love between the two individuals, eventually cracks will appear and it may lead to further damage and so on, ” he told the reporter.
Ismail observed that unfortunately, the ruling parties in the unity government were already attacking each other in the public domain, which would only lead to a “permanent break-up.”
“This is just the beginning, and we will have to see how it goes, ” he added, “DAP has already commenting on UMNO, and UMNO commenting on DAP, from UMNO Johor Bahru Supreme Council Nur Jazlan.”
The former Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed openly criticised The Democratic Action Party (DAP), claiming that the party’s alliance with DAP within the PH coalition would pose a challenge for UMNO to win back the Malays support.
In response, former DAP leader Lim Kit Siang and other members of the party weighed in and refuted Nur Jazlan’s comment.
DAP secretary-general reminded that Unity Government forged based on advice of Malaysia’s King
In response to Ismail Sabri’s remark, Anthony Loke, the DAP secretary-general reminded that the cooperation between PH and BN was formed based on the advice of Malaysia’s King.
The current Transport Minister disagreed with how Ismail Sabri described the coalition as a ‘forced marriage’, stressing that this is a political cooperation aimed at creating a stable unity government.
“As a former prime minister, does he (Ismail Sabri) want to see cracks and divisions within the unity government?” Mr Loke questioned.
“In any cooperation, including in the unity government, we must work towards strengthening and reinforcing such a working relationship,” he told the Malaysian media on Tuesday (18 Apr).
Dr Akmal Saleh, Umno Youth chief, also defended that the unlikely PH-BN political alliance in forming the government is not necessarily doomed to end, believing that both can work together as long as there is “mutual respect and understanding”.
According to Free Malaysia Today, he acknowledged that it was difficult for former rivals to form a pact, but he was confident the two sides have buried the hatchet.
“If we can sit together and understand each other, I don’t see this relationship ending.”
“The same thing happened when we (Umno) were together with PAS (in the previous two governments). It was difficult in the early stages, but we managed to get through.”
“Now that the government has been formed, both parties are obliged to ensure it will help the public and avoid as much politicking as possible. The people need us and we need to deliver,” he said.
Background of Malaysia’s Unity Government
Following the conclusion of the Malaysia 15th General Election (GE15) in November 2022, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s PH coalition garnered 82 parliamentary seats while Perikatan National (PN) led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin won 73 seats.
Barisan National (BN) suffered its worst electoral outcome in history, securing only 30 seats out of the 177 seats contested.
UMNO won 26 out of 120 seats contested, while MCA gained only two seats out of 44 contested seats.
Neither PH nor PN holds enough seats to form a simple majority government.
UMNO, BN’s leading component party, unanimously decided to comply with the King’s order to support the unity government idea, which made the alliance between PH and BN possible.
Muhyiddin Yassin had refused to cooperate with PH to form unity government.
The impasse of the hung parliament was resolved on 24 November when the Malaysia King announced that Anwar Ibrahim had gained enough support and was officially appointed as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister.
On 16 December last year, political leaders from UMNO, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Sabah and Sarawak a memorandum of understanding (MoU) pledging their support to Unity Government led by 10th Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.