A deal in the works for Pakatan, BN?

Jahabar Sadiq

Anwar Ibrahim's Pakatan Harapan coalition may have been the big election winner, but it has not secured enough seats for a majority. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Afif Abd Halim, November 21, 2022.

A SHATTERED Barisan Nasional is negotiating with Pakatan Harapan to form a government by 2pm despite some of its MPs being partial to PAS-dominated Perikatan Nasional. 

BN leader Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is facing calls to resign over the coalition’s worst electoral performance in history, will meet PH leader Anwar Ibrahim at 10am in Kuala Lumpur. 

“There’s some understanding; Zahid as the BN bloc leader has the authority to work out a deal,” a source told The Malaysian Insight. 

BN won only 30 seats, far behind PH’s 82 and PN’s 73 in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat, making for a historic hung parliament despite a massive 15 million turnout at Saturday’s polls. PH and BN have enough seats between them to make up a simple majority of 112 to be government.

“He is considering Umno and BN’s long-term future. Going with PN means playing third fiddle to two Malay parties – PAS and Bersatu. Being with PH will still see Umno influential in rural areas,” another source said. 

Disgraced BN leader Najib Razak has sent a message from jail for the coalition to balance its long-term interests when considering which coalition to join. 

But others said BN lawmakers are keen to join PN and Gabungan Parti Sarawak as they have been promised key posts and are comfortable with Bersatu and PAS – both the backbone of PN. 

A similar deal with PN took place in 2020 when BN joined the coalition for Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin to become prime minister, said sources 

“You can call it the scheme of things 2.0 with a bloated cabinet to appease all parties, except PAS will be dominant,” said a party leader familiar with negotiations on both sides. 

As the Barisan Nasional chairman, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (left) has the authority to work out a deal with Pakatan Harapan for the forming of a government. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 21, 2022.

BN MPs with prominent roles in the previous PN government include Bera MP Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who became deputy prime minister and later prime minister, and Sembrong MP Hishammuddin Hussein, who took charge of the defence portfolio. 

While BN component MCA has been silent on the talks, the Chinese party has openly asked for Zahid to step aside in what is seen as pressure to commit to PN. 

It is understood some BN members fear being sidelined for top jobs but a PH source said there will be some flexibility. 

“The main thing is to form a government representative of the vote and Malaysia,” he said. 

He noted the 2pm deadline was for the political blocs to express their preference for the PM, which rules out MPs or their individual statutory declarations being used to determine the next prime minister. 

Curiously, Muhyiddin had said that PN was talking to GPS, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah and certain MPs to form the government while GPS had said that BN was part of the deal. 

But Zahid issued a strong denial last night of such talks with any of these parties and warned his MPs that they had given him the authority to decide. 

“We’ll know by 2pm which side has the numbers,” said a top PH leader. – November 21, 2022.

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