Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Merger push in Perak - NST

IPOH: Jul 29, 2008 By Brenda Lim and P. Chandra Sagaran

Perak Umno has upped the ante in the talks between Pas and Umno.

Perak Barisan Nasional chief Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali yesterday offered a proposed merged entity of Umno and Pas to form a new government in the state.

The result, he said, would be a stronger and more stable government with 34 seats -- 28 held by Umno and six by Pas. The Pakatan Rakyat government now holds 31 seats in the 56-seat state assembly.

Pas spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat had suggested that the two parties, which have been engaged in talks to unite Malays and Muslims, be dissolved and a new party formed.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin had two days ago said Perak Pas was in principle agreeable to a merger of the two parties.

Tajol Rosli's proposal is sure to raise the ire of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP, the other two members in the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

Besides Mohammad Nizar, Perak Pas has one state exco member, while PKR has three and DAP six.

Tajol Rosli, who was menteri besar in the previous administration, said Pas could keep the menteri besar's post and be allocated "three or four" state executive councillor posts, with the remaining posts given to Umno and MCA's sole state assemblyman Dr Mah Hang Soon.

He gave the assurance that he himself would not be part of the new state executive council so as to prevent accusations that he would be controlling the state government as an executive councillor.

On whether Perak would become an Islamic state under his proposal, he said: "We have Dr Mah as a member of BN. That's why I said we must make Perak a testing ground."

Unlike Kelantan, where the population comprised mostly Malays, Perak had Malay, Chinese and Indian populations and would need the support of all races to be governed well, he said.

Tajol Rosli also said the division among Malays did not bode well for the country's political stability.

"To develop and achieve Vision 2020, we must have political stability. And it cannot exist without cooperation between Umno and Pas."

On whether forming the new coalition involved politicians hopping from one party to another, Tajol Rosli said the move involved political parties and not individuals.

Asked if forming a new state government with Pas would mean negating the votes cast by the public on March 8, he said the same question should be posed to PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when he claimed that Pakatan Rakyat would take control of the Federal Government by Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

"We want political stability, not only for Perak, but for the whole country."

Immediately after Tajol's press conference, Mohammad Nizar called for a press conference to assure his Pakatan Rakyat partners that Pas will stand by them. "We won't allow ourselves to be disintegrated."

Perak DAP chairman and state senior executive councillor Ngeh Koo Ham, who was also at the press conference, welcomed Mohammad Nizar's stand.

When contacted, PKR state chairman Zulkifly Ibrahim said there was no likelihood of Perak being ruled by a merged Umno and Pas.

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