Mastering art of coalition building key, now that days of single, dominant party over, says DAP strategist

“So today, the prime minister must come down from heaven and beg coalition partners to stay in the coalition.  

(MMO) – The outcome of the 14th general election (GE14) heralded a new political dynamic for Malaysia, effectively ending the days of a single party dominating the country’s political landscape, said DAP’s Liew Chin Tong.

As a result, political parties must now focus on building a stronger, more cohesive coalition in the run-up to the looming election cycle as they attempt to woo voters.

“There is no longer one single party taiko (big brother). The days of one dominant party were over in 2018. It means there is no more Umno in its old form. Najib would often say Umno is born to lead. Those days are over.

“Umno, if it wants to survive, has to work with other parties and assume a position in which it is going to enter a coalition of parties of similar strength.

“That means it will not be able to contest over 100 seats in the peninsula alone as it did during past elections.

“The point is every party will have to accept that it is going to enter into some form of coalition with parties of similar strength so there is no more a single dominant party,” the DAP political education director said during an exclusive interview with Malay Mail.

‘Muhyiddin doesn’t understand the art of coalition building’

During GE14, Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) only managed to attain 79 parliamentary seats, out of which 54 were won by Umno.

Pakatan Harapan (PH), however, managed to secure 113 seats to form a simple majority, with defections from Umno bolstering its ranks after its win.

Following the collapse of the PH administration last year, Bersatu-led Perikatan Nasional (PN) was born with a slim majority of 114 MPs.

Liew also pointed out that the dynamic of a coalition built on parties of equal strength would also humble the prime minister of said coalition as he or she must be ready to listen, compromise and negotiate to ensure its success.

Citing the PN government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as an example, Liew pointed out that the prime minister does not truly understand how to build a cohesive coalition.

“We are unlikely to see a very dominant prime minister, an almost presidential prime minister. The days of a presidential prime minister are over because it is the outcome of a one-party state.

“So today, the prime minister must come down from heaven and beg coalition partners to stay in the coalition.

“Muhyiddin doesn’t understand the art of coalition building, and therefore, Umno wants to leave the coalition. As much as he thinks he can dominate, lord over Umno, it has been a difficult journey for Muhyiddin.

“So everyone, whether you are Mahathir, Anwar, Muhyiddin or any prime minister aspirant, you will have to understand that the job of a prime minister is to build a cohesive coalition and not lord over other people,” he said.

He was referring to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

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