KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — Political parties of Sabah and Sarawak cannot be left out in the formation of the federal government after the 15th general election (GE15), said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Therefore, Ismail Sabri who is also UMNO vice-president, said Barisan Nasional (BN) is ready to work with parties from both states namely Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) to form the federal government.
“Whatever the result, the alliance must be decided by the party. Individuals do not have the right to decide who we want to join with after the election, but we will definitely invite GPS as an example.
“We are also ready to cooperate and will invite GRS and BN Sabah, because for me no matter how many seats we get, 120 to 130, we must have parties from Sabah and Sarawak. They cannot be left out in the coalition to form the federal government,” he was speaking in the programme “Bual Bicara Khas Kestabilan dan Kemakmuran Bersama Perdana Menteri which was aired by Bernama TV and several local television stations tonight.
However, Ismail Sabri, who was named as the designated Prime Minister candidate for BN said BN needs to win at least 80 to 90 parliamentary seats out of the 178 constituencies it contested to become the dominant party if a coalition government has to be formed.
“If we (BN) have only 40 seats, others have 60 seats, it is impossible for us to lead the coalition government. That’s why we need to be the lead, as our target is 112, if we can cross (a simple majority) and we can form of the government.
“And we can’t, even with 80 or 90 (seats), we are more dominant than other parties. So we will invite them to join us, of course the prime minister will come from us (BN). If we get 30, others 80, then the other people will become PM,” he said.
A total of 222 parliamentary seats are being contested and based on the ‘first-past-the-post’ system, any party or coalition that obtains a simple majority of 112 seats, is eligible to form a government.
Regarding the claim that BN may merge with Pakatan Harapan (PH) if it does not win enough seats, Ismail Sabri said that it is unlikely to happen because the UMNO General Assembly (PAU) and the UMNO Supreme Council (MT) meeting have decided to reject Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP and PKR.
“If you want to reverse the decision, take it back to the MT and bring it back to the extraordinary general meeting to decide otherwise. As long as there is no such decision, then the decision “No Anwar, No DAP” will continue to stand.
“And I believe that there is no one among UMNO, not even the top leadership, who can change the decision of MT and can change the decision of PAU by themselves. It must be decided by the party,” said Ismail Sabri.
In the meantime, the incumbent Bera MP once again expressed his confidence that BN will be able to win at least 112 parliamentary seats to form the federal government after seeing the “mood” of voters that has changed a lot compared to GE14.
“Not only among Malay voters or urban voters, but also among non-Malay voters, especially the Chinese, we are seeing a much better reception compared to GE14. If you ask me if I am confident that I can win? Of course I am confident,” he said.
However, Ismail Sabri expressed concern that personal issues (character assassination) will be raised more in the second week of the GE15 campaign, which is getting more intense in the run-up to polling day.
He said BN will focus more on the ‘product’ and what can be offered to the people instead of making personal attacks as campaign material.
“In terms of manifesto, we are much better than the manifesto of other parties because most of our manifesto is from 2023 Budget that has been presented,” he said, adding that it is not an empty promise as there are sufficient funds for its implementation.
Ismail Sabri also hopes that the situation will be harmonious and smooth during the campaign without any major issues involving provocation or extreme violence and this will continue until polling day on Saturday.