Monday, 24 February 2020 By Chew Lip Song
WHEN Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg flew to Kuala Lumpur yesterday, he was optimistic that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition he led could play kingmaker in determining the occupants in Putrajaya.
It was no secret that he was hoping to cut a deal with the plotters out to sabotage Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s bid to be the eighth Prime Minister. Sources said besides Federal Ministerial positions, Abang Johari was lobbying for Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) to be offered the Deputy Prime Minister II post – the first for East Malaysia.
Fast forward 12 hours later, and Chief Minister flew back to Kuching with nothing to show for, except a bruised ego and a dented reputation for wanting to work with Islamist party Pas and lawmakers he had railed against in the past.
The coup that would have seen the collapse of the 21-month-old Pakatan Harapan Federal government failed to get the numbers. Even GPS’ 18 Parliamentarians was insufficient to overthrow a legitimately-elected government, to be replaced by a backdoor one.
A GPS insider told The New Sarawak that the state ruling coalition was not joining Pakatan Nasional, the new coalition, comprising Umno, Pas, Bersatu and PKR MPs that was supposed to replace PH.
“We are not joining Pakatan Nasional. In case PH collapses, we will continue to support the Prime Minister, that’s all. We are not joining the Cabinet.We stay as we are,” the GPS insider said.
It is believed that this change of stance followed the failed bid to form a backdoor government.
According to media reports, Abang Johari joined several top party leaders, including from Umno, PKR, Parti Pribumi Bersatu, Pas and his Sabah counterpart, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal for an audience with the King.
This meeting was believed to be linked to the ongoing power struggle over the succession of the Prime Minister.
“Abang Johari flew to KL thinking he could cut a deal. But Azmin failed to get the numbers. The Chief Minister’s willingness to cosy up to Pas and Umno shows his true colours. He has put personal gain over principles,” a Sarawak lawmaker said.
Abang Johari had come under fire for his association with MPs who had wanted to bring down the PH government. These include legislators from Pas, a party which had pledged support for Dr Mahathir to serve out his full term.
Last October, a viral photo of Abang Johari with Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang created much uneasiness in the state. Abang Johari had said the meeting was to discuss possible co-operation in socio-economic projects in Pas-held states like Kelantan and Terengganu.