“Most importantly, the people must be united. It has to take precedence over party interest. Let us sacrifice some of our rights sincerely for the sake of saving our country”
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who called for the formation of a national unity government as a way out of the current political impasse. He said the Barisan Nasional (BN) could not bring the country out of the economic crisis by itself, implying that the ruling coalition required assistance that the Islamic party could provide. (Source: PAS calls for unity government, The Malaysian Insider, 27 Feb 2009)
“We must place unity above political divide when we head into a crisis”
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, in support of Hadi Awang’s proposal. The veteran Umno politician said such a national unity government would be a move in the right direction to restore stability. (Source: Ku Li backs Hadi’s call for national unity government, The Star, 28 Feb 2009)
In fact, Ku Li had first championed the idea of a national unity government in September 2008. In October, the then-Umno president-hopeful revealed that he had talked to leaders from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), DAP and PAS about such a grand coalition.
“I am open and don’t want to dismiss anyone with good intentions[,] but whatever happens, it has to be proposed in detail for the party’s consideration.”
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, responding to Hadi Awang’s proposal. The Umno vice-president, also in the running for the party’s deputy presidency, said he would be receptive to reasonable suggestions to bring the country out of political turmoil despite differences across the political divide. (Source: Muhyiddin open to ‘unity govt’ idea, The Edge Financial Daily, 13 March 2009)
Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, in the running for Umno Youth chief, echoed Muhyiddin’s suggestion that PAS submit its proposal to the BN in writing, saying that he had previously suggested PAS return to the ruling coalition’s fold.
Conversely, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, until recently a candidate for Umno deputy president, rejected PAS’s proposal, calling it a “flip-flop party”.
“We already have a unity government in the BN. We have so many component parties representing all the racial groups in the country…We already have that, so there is no need for us to bring in any opposition member… If anything at all, they might come in and cause disunity”
Umno Wanita chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, dismissing the proposal as a political ploy. (Source: Rafidah brushes aside PAS’s call for unity government, The Malaysian Insider, 1 March 2009)
“It’s been tried before but did not work out. PAS was not appreciated in the coalition and I have many misgivings about this.”
PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat. While stressing that he was against Hadi Awang’s proposal, the Kelantan menteri besar added that he was only expressing his personal opinion, and that the matter had to be debated by PAS in its annual general assembly. (Source: Nik Aziz Opposes Unity Government, Bernama, 15 March 2009)
Nik Aziz was referring to PAS under Asri Muda’s presidency, from 1973 to 1978, when it was part of the BN coalition. This brief unity ended acrimoniously, with the 1977 Kelantan constitutional crisis.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have approached Hadi Awang’s suggestion with caution. DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng urged the PAS president to clarify his proposal to the PR supreme council.