Coalition issues first statement after Umno’s Ismail Sabri became PM.
After months of flirting with Umno, the Pakatan Harapan presidential council said it will now prioritise efforts to unite the opposition over political manoeuvrings.
It also thanked the 105 opposition MPs, which included competing parties such as Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) and Warisan, for supporting PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as their prime minister candidate.
Anwar lost out to Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob who had the support of 114 MPs.
Anwar had in September last year claimed to have cobbled together a “strong, convincing, and formidable” majority.
The opposition leader was believed to have roped in some Umno lawmakers but they ultimately failed to deliver during the Budget 2021 vote and again after Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin was ousted as the prime minister.
The Harapan presidential council, in its first statement after Ismail Sabri was sworn in as the ninth prime minister, renewed its commitment to the “Port Dickson declaration” to forge cooperation among opposition parties under the “big tent” concept.
“Preparations for the 15th general election will be intensified including seat negotiations, manifesto, leadership, candidates, and strategies to win the people’s mandate.
“At the same time, in line with the Port Dickson declaration on April 9, and in order to unite the strength of the entire opposition bloc, Harapan takes a position of openness to negotiate and cooperate under the ‘big tent’ concept based on the reform agenda and the people’s interest.
“The effort to unite the opposition’s strength under a big tent must be given priority over political manoeuvrings exploited by certain parties to grab power and positions which are to the detriment of the country,” it added.
The statement was jointly signed by Anwar, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng after the Harapan presidential council meeting today.
The presidential council also reiterated its commitment as a coalition led by Anwar who is the Harapan chairperson.
It also expressed concern about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the state of the economy.
The Harapan presidential council did not directly address Ismail Sabri’s offer for the opposition to join the National Recovery Council and special committee on Covid-19 although individual leaders previously indicated a willingness to consider.
However, the presidential council stressed the coalition’s preparedness to play a constructive role as the opposition.
“Harapan will continue its duties as the opposition in Parliament and provide constructive and responsible criticism, recommendations, and views in line with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree to ensure checks and balances against the executive.
“Let us pray and work to urgently overcome the Covid-19 pandemic and economic downturn to save lives and livelihood,” it added.