Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Bangi on the 24th of April, 2020
It has been more than one month since Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan National (PN) cabinet was sworn in on the 10th of March 2020. Each political party within this uneasy coalition faces their unique political challenges in operating as part of the government. But no party faces bigger questions and challenges than UMNO as it grapples with the question of how it wants to work with BERSATU. This is UMNO’s biggest dilemma within the PN government.
From the outset, let me be clear on this point – UMNO leaders and members would much prefer to be in government together with BERSATU than to be in the opposition. In government, UMNO would have access to the privileges of power including access to positions in Ministries, Government Agencies and GLCs. But there is NOTHING about the arrangement in the current PN government which UMNO would find acceptable in the longer term. Most importantly, from a political strategy perspective, UMNO leaders must realize that BERSATU’s ultimate goal is to replace UMNO in the political arena as the dominant Malay party in government. This is the only way that BERSATU can survive post GE15 and UMNO knows this.
After ruling the country for over 60 years, UMNO is not used to playing the role of No.2 in government. And yet, this is the position they find themselves in today. With 41 elected Members of Parliament (MPs), they have more MPs than BERSATU, who only have 29 MPs (this includes the 10 MPs from PKR but does not include the 5 MPs who are supporting Tun Mahathir1). And yet, BERSATU have more Ministers (11 including the Prime Minister versus 9 for UMNO) and Deputy Ministers (15 versus 8 for UMNO) than UMNO. Most of the key Ministries are also being helmed by BERSATU MPs (Education, Home Affairs, Economy, Rural Development, Trade and Industry) or individuals aligned to the Prime Minister (Finance) with UMNO having perhaps only one relatively ‘senior’ ministry, namely Defence. Two out of the Four Senior Ministers are also from BERSATU with UMNO having only one Senior Minister.2Continue reading “UMNO’s dilemma in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition government – Part 1”