Zahid jumped the gun on grand coalition in Sabah, says analyst

BN chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi seeks to form a stronger coalition in Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: A political analyst said Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi jumped the gun by announcing his grand coalition proposal without first speaking to Sabah political parties.

Romzi Ationg of Universiti Malaysia Sabah said as a result, the announcement backfired on Zahid after several Sabah parties thumbed their noses at the suggestion.

“This turn of events could have been avoided because it has now tarnished his image and that of BN as well,” he told FMT.

“Sabah politicians and parties view his call as a move to dominate them, thus, suggesting that it is against the interest of all Sabahans in terms of greater autonomy.

Romzi Ationg

“This also gives the impression that these leaders are not making any effort to understand, respect and work with each other without someone trying to lead or dominate them.

“Early discussions should be held and only after a consensus is reached should any announcement be made.”

Zahid, who is also Umno president, had said over the weekend that talks were being held with several parties in Sabah on the distribution of 73 seats ahead of the Sabah state election.

“God willing we will form a coalition of all these parties together with Sabah BN so that there is only one coalition of political parties in Sabah,” he was reported to have said.

The parties he was referring to include Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS), STAR, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), SAPP and Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS).

However, PCS, LDP and SAPP responded immediately, speaking up against his proposal.

PCS president Anifah Aman replied that the party would contest on its own, in line with its policy of working alone while LDP secretary-general Yong Wui Chung said the party rejected any cooperation with BN and was adamant about remaining an independent party.

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said his party has not held any talks with others, including BN, aside from some informal meetings with Sabah PPBM chief Hajiji Noor and STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Pawi believes the proposal for a grand coalition is an idea that may have come spontaneously from Zahid.

The Bagan Datuk MP, he said, might have thought such an idea to unite the parties would be easily accepted as it was the best way to achieve victory.

Awang Azman Awang Pawi

Awang Azman said Zahid might have felt the smaller parties going it alone at the polls next month would make it more difficult for BN to bring down their political rivals.

“When there is no solidarity between them, then it could be harder to go against Warisan and its allies,” he said.

Awang Azman, however, does not believe it is a question of parties from the peninsula wanting to be dominant or taking charge.

“Don’t forget DAP is also working with Warisan. This is a question of politicians being greedy and confident but forgetting that without political cooperation, it would be difficult to win,” he said.