He said PBS would also have to convince all BN component parties of its sincerity in re-joining the coalition, admit its past mistakes and promise not to repeat them.
This is most humiliating and even unfair stance, creating a bogey of PBS’ “record of disloyalty”, as the Najib condition was not imposed on the ex-PBS leaders responsible for the “ill-advice” leading to the PBS pull-out from the Barisan Nasional 11 years ago, and who have preceded the PBS President, Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan back into the BN fold.
It is clear that Najib is acting as a “stalking horse” for some of the Sabah components parties and elements of the Barisan Nasional who oppose the PBS return but dare not take a public stand.
Barisan Nasional allegedly operates on the principle of unanimity and if this is true, then there is no chance of PBS being accepted back into the Barisan Nasional fold, for the Sabah breakaway parties from PBS now already in Barisan Nasional would have vetoed PBS’ return.
However, the BN principle of unanimity on admission of new members operates only when Mahathir allows it to operate - and this is why I feel great pity for M.G. Pandithan and the Indian Progressive Party as they have not been able to overcome this elastic BN principle of unanimity in their quest for membership of the Barisan Nasional.
This is why even though it is obvious that there BN parties and elements in Sabah who do not want to see the PBS back in the ruling coalition, they would not dare to really speak up - and the most they could hope for is to get some UMNO “heavy-weights” to ventilate their unhappiness in an indirect fashion, like what Najib had done.
Would Pairin accept the humiliating condition proposed by Najib?
He might just do so from his interview with New Sunday Times yesterday, where he claimed that the PBS decision was triggered by “patriotic” feelings as a result of the September 11 events although it was the outcome of “nearly six months of negotiations and bargaining”.
In the interview, Pairin said that the PBS’ pull-out of the Barisan Nasional on the eve of the 1990 general elections was a “mistake - the result of being ill-advised”.
He said: “But suffice it to say that what occurred at that time was because we were ill-advised by some of the leaders. But everybody actually agreed to the decision and that was it.”
But what was this “ill-advice” and who rendered it? DAP was a full member of Gagasan Rakyat, but DAP leaders were completely caught by surprise by PBS’ pull-out from the Barisan Nasional to work for the common cause with Gagasan Rakyat in the last few days of the 1990 general elections campaign.
I was campaigning in Sungai Siput for the late Sdr. P. Patto, who was then contesting against MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, when I was told at a ceramah of the news of the PBS’ pull-out from the Barisan Nasional and throwing its lot with Semangat 46 and the Gagasan Rakyat from a radio news broadcast.
PBS was “ill-advised” to pull out from the Barisan Nasional 11 years ago because its leadership believed that PBS could be the “king-maker” in Malaysian politics in the toppling of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the election of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as the new Prime Minister in the 1990 general elections.
The PBS leaders who came over to Peninsular Malaysia to assess the political climate in the run-up to the 1990 general elections were led by Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, then PBS Deputy President and Datuk Yong Teck Lee, then a PBS Vice President.
From their political assessments, both Dompok and Yong believed that Malaysia was on the cusp of unprecedented political change, and that the 1990 general elections could see the downfall of Mahathir and the rise of Razaleigh to take over the Federal Government as Prime Minister.
For reasons which both Dompok and Yong are the best persons to explain, both of them believed that there were the “numbers” for such a change of government, that Gagasan Rakyat could win over 60 parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia, that a Barisan Nasional party in Sarawak was on the verge of defecting from Barisan Nasional to Gagasan Rakyat involving over 20 parliamentary seats and that PBS with control of over 15 parliamentary seats could be the “king-maker” in Malaysian politics in deciding the toppling of Mahathir and the election of Razaleigh as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Hence, the last-minute and completely unexpected decision and announcement of the PBS pull-out from Barisan Nasional on the eve of the 1990 general elections.
The misreading and wrong forecast of the PBS leaders about the 1990 general elections results in the few days before polling was most astounding as the DAP never regarded the toppling of Mahathir and Barisan Nasional in the 1990 general elections by Gagasan Rakyat as within the realm of practical possibility - and that the best results which Gagasan Rakyat could achieve was the traumatic result for Mahathir and Barisan Nasional of losing two-thirds parliamentary majority.
It is unlikely however that Mahathir would agree with Najib and impose such a humiliating condition for PBS’ return to the Barisan Nasional, as PBS’ return has a special significance to Mahathir, not only as a personal vindication but even more important, in securing a thumping Barisan Nasional victory in the next general elecltions.
With PBS’ return to BN, many are expecting a landslide win for the Barisan Nasional in the next parliamentary general elections, which should be held in 2003 in 18 months’ time. This will be a great boost to Mahathir and UMNO, as together with a landslide victory in Sarawak (as indicated by the recent Sarawak state general elections), UMNO and Barisan Nasional fears of being voted out of office would be greatly diminished.
In the 1999 general elections, UMNO suffered its worst electoral defeat in its party history, winning only 72 Parliamentary seats as compared to 89 in 1995, and for the first time, having fewer seats than all the other Barisan Nasional parties combined.
It is precisely because of Mahathir and UMNO battling with PAS to win back the Malay heartland that the Prime Minister had announced on Sept. 29 that Malaysia is an Islamic state, in total disregard of the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building cornerstone of Malaysia as a secular state with Islam as the official religion.
With PBS back in the BN fold, Mahathir is even more assured of his power base for the next general elections. Even in the worst-case scenario, and UMNO could only win half of the 104 seats it contested (based on 1999 data), UMNO would have 52 parliamentary seats and together with the 48 seats in Sabah and Sarawak (bar losing a few to the Opposition), and the wins of the other Barisan Nasional component parties in Peninsular Malaysia, UMNO and BN would have secured the simple majority for another five years of Federal rule.
The PBS return to Barisan Nasional creates a political vacuum in Sabah and a great challenge to DAP, which had four Sabah Members of Parliament from 1986-1990. The DAP is poised to play a greater role in Sabah politics with the DAP again becoming the the most articulate voice of the people of Sabah for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in the first decade of the new century.